A bit of good news to break up the election stuff:
Wayne McCombs, local baseball historian and executive director of the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore, is the subject of a profile in GTR Newspapers.
The profile by Terrel Lester begins with the story of McCombs's first encounter with the Davis collection, when he was a nine-year-old boy and the collection was still housed in the lobby of the Mason Hotel in downtown Claremore:
On a summer afternoon, air-conditioning and guns would be an inviting and double-barreled treat for rambunctious boys still shy of their teenage years.
They entered the lobby, cautiously, stealthily, if not so quietly. Looked around for the boss man.
Considering themselves alone, the boys encircled one of the most enticing pieces of Davis' collection of guns: The Gatling gun, rapid-fire linchpin of 19th-century army brigades and star of so many western movies.
As ringleader of the youngsters, Wayne McCombs remembered that he and his pals began imitating cavalry troops, rattling off sounds they thought mimicked the actions of the Gatling gun, whooping, jumping. One of his confederates even fell to the floor as if shot and wounded.
That was enough to rouse the heretofore silent and unseen James Monroe Davis.
"He stood up from behind his desk," McCombs said. "He saw us come in. He let us play for a little bit, but then it was time to get out.
The profile goes on to describe McCombs's career in radio at KWPR and KVOO, his work as University of Tulsa athletics promotion director during the exciting early '80s, his books on baseball history, his efforts as a Claremore civic leader, and his work, for the last seven years, to promote the J. M. Davis Museum.
McCombs routinely calls upon his marketing background for events to put, and keep, the museum in the public eye.
Along with the monthly appearance of western re-enactors, McCombs has installed such short-term exhibits as a collection of John Wayne movie posters and a tribute to the radio career of Billy Parker. In October, McCombs hosted a book-signing for former New York Yankees pitcher and Chelsea native Ralph Terry. Once or twice a year, McCombs plays host to a BB-gun shooting contest for youngsters.
"I was tired of hearing people say, 'I've been to the museum, but it's been a while. I haven't been back in years.'
"Well, I am trying to get people to come back to the museum," McCombs said.
When they do return, or even make their first trip, to the museum, patrons will find what McCombs and others often refer to as "an Oklahoma gem."
I've known Wayne going back to his time at TU, through Hal O'Halloran's Sports Night show on KXXO. It's always heartening to see someone find a role that is such a good fit for his skills and passions.
Found while looking for something else: In the Tulsa Library's growing digital archive, a December 22, 1983, Tulsa Tribune, story about the the Boston Beer Garden, destroyed by fire in the wee hours of December 21, 1983. The fire took the life of the bar's janitor and night watchman, Lennis Norman, 30.
The Boston Beer Garden was part of a cluster of small shops centering around the Five Points intersection at Haskell Street (now John Hope Franklin Blvd.), Main Street, and Boulder Avenue, and extending east along Haskell to Boston, the retail focus of the southern end of Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood. I wrote about the neighborhood and its demolition in a 2014 feature story for This Land, called "Steps to Nowhere."
The story centers on an interview with Pauline Andrews, who, with her husband Howard Andrews, opened a sandwich shop on the northwest corner of Haskell & Boston in 1936. The following year Howard's father, George Andrews, opened the Boston Beer Garden next door. During his 10 years of ownership, the Boston Beer Garden was known for a courtyard of umbrella-shaded tables. Based on fire insurance maps, it appears that there was a building on the street front with the courtyard to the rear.
During this period, Oklahoma was officially "dry," but beer with less than 3.2% alcohol by weight was considered "non-intoxicating" and available for sale.
Shortly after I published "Steps to Nowhere," I attended a centennial celebration for Emerson Elementary School and spoke to a lady who had attended the school in the 1940s. She recalls walking with schoolmates down the alley between Main and Boston, heading toward an ice cream shop on the south side of Haskell, and hearing from over the fence the Boston Beer Garden's resident parrot, which had picked up some salty language from the customers. (Somewhere I have my notes from that conversation and the lady's name.)
It would be nice to see a beer garden in Tulsa once again. Properly situated, these can be pleasant community gathering places.
In San Antonio, they're called ice houses. The ice house has its origin in selling blocks of ice and, by the way, having some ice cold beer and pop on hand for thirsty customers. It's typically a small building with a walk-up window in the middle of a shady yard. During some extended travel there six years ago, I enjoyed stopping by The Friendly Spot, on S. Alamo Street in the King William District south of downtown. Huge live oaks provided a canopy for old-fashioned metal lawn chairs and tables. A miniature drive-in type screen at one end of the yard was used for movies and sports on TV. At the other end was a fenced-in playground -- Mom and Dad could relax with a beer and some street tacos while watching their kids on the swings. On most of my strolls I didn't stop in, but I always enjoyed walking past the pleasant scene of neighbors mingling.
If the city manages to pry the Near Northside out of the University Center at Tulsa Authority's cold, dead fingers, perhaps the redevelopment plan could include a beer garden at the corner of John Hope Franklin Blvd. and Boston Ave.
RELATED: Here's a January 3, 1969, article from the Tulsa Tribune, listing all the private clubs that had been granted city licenses for that year, with their addresses. The list includes country clubs (like Southern Hills), fraternal organizations (like the Elks Lodge and the American Legion), professional clubs (like the Tulsa Press Club and the Petroleum Club), downtown clubs (like the Tulsa Club and the Summit Club), the Rubiot, the Red Garter (in the Camelot Hotel), the Cognito Inn (11th & Denver), and even the House of Blue Lights (1616 N. Sheridan). The article is a concise bit of history naming and placing some long-forgotten establishments. Private clubs could serve liquor by the drink (often referred to as "liquor-by-the-wink") but only to members; ordinary bars were BYOL.
MORE: Bill Leighty remembers the Boston Beer Garden in his reminiscences of his childhood in the neighborhood during the late '40s and early '50s:
The Boston Beer Garden was a popular haunt for neighborhood men and my Dad would occasionally go there with some of his friends or guys he worked with. I don't think my mom really felt comfortable there and she seldom ever went with them. It had a bit of a reputation as being a rowdy place in those days. I don't think fights among patrons were terribly uncommon in those days.
MORE: Here's the text of that 1983 Tribune story:
I've been reading a very interesting book, The Jazz of the Southwest: An Oral History of Western Swing by Jean A. Boyd (1998, University of Texas Press). Boyd is professor of musicology at Baylor University. The book begins by tracing the overall history of the genre, as it began in Texas in the 1930s, the musical streams from which it drew, and the men who shaped the music in its infancy.
Each of the remaining chapters of the book is devoted to a particular instrument. Boyd provides a historical overview of the instrument's involvement in western swing and the early musicians who helped to define its role. She then tells the story of several players, drawn from her interviews with them. For example, the chapter on fiddlers spotlights Cliff Bruner, Carroll Hubbard, Buddy Ray, Jimmy Thomason, Johnny Gimble, Bobby Bruce, Curly Lewis, Clyde Brewer, and Bobby Boatright. While Bob Wills and his many Texas Playboys sidemen are prominently featured, Boyd's book has introduced me to bands and musicians that are new to me and whose music I hope to find at some point.
The Baylor University Institute for Oral History has made complete transcripts of many of the interviews available online. While there is a Western Swing collection, that tag doesn't include some interviews with western swing musicians, so the best way to find all of them is to search for interviews conducted by Boyd or by historian David Stricklin (son of original Texas Playboys pianist Al Stricklin).
Here are direct links to a few among many interesting transcripts:
Betty Anderson Wills, wife of Bob Wills
Original Texas Playboys: Smoky Dacus, Al Stricklin, Eldon Shamblin, Joe Frank Ferguson, Leon McAuliffe (1985)
Eldon Shamblin, guitarist, arranger, band manager (1992)
Herb Remington, steel guitar
Curly Lewis, fiddler and vocalist
Cindy Walker, songwriter
Dean Moore, vocalist and widow of mandolinist Tiny Moore; Truitt Cunningham, vocalist; Burl Taylor
Some entries (e.g. Dean Moore, Curly Lewis) have the recordings available on the right sidebar for online streaming.
MORE: The Baylor University Institute for Oral History has helpful resources for anyone wanting to learn to conduct, transcribe, and preserve oral history interviews.
Jean Boyd has written two more books of western swing history: We're the Light Crust Doughboys from Burrus Mill, and Dance All Night: Those Other Southwestern Swing Bands, Past and Present.
Tulsans will have two chances this month to sample the movie-going experience as it was almost a century ago, thanks to the Sooner State Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.
This coming Saturday, January 9, 2016, at 11 a.m., Circle Cinema will screen the 1927 film It, starring Clara Bow, who became known as "The 'It' Girl," and the first episode of the serial The Master Mystery, starring legendary magician Harry Houdini. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for 16 and under. This is part of the "Second Saturday Silents at the Circle Cinema" series. Circle Cinema is at 10 S. Lewis in Whittier Square.
A week from this Friday, January 15, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the Sooner State Chapter will present Robin Hood, the 1922 version starring Douglas Fairbanks, at the Broken Arrow campus of Tulsa Technology Center, 111th St & 129th East Ave. The movie was the most expensive production of its day. Bill Rowland will accompany the film on the Robert-Morton pipe organ, an instrument originally installed in the Capital Theatre in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1927. Admission, popcorn, and lemonade are free, but donations are gratefully accepted.
MORE MUSIC: A couple of musical events worthy of note:
Tonight, Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Shelby Eicher is hosting a gypsy jazz concert (in the tradition of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli) at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame (in the old Tulsa Union Depot, 1st & Boston downtown). Admission is $10.
Tomorrow night, Thursday, January 7, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Memorial High School Choir will present Mozart's Coronation Mass and Regina Coeli for their 33rd annual Vocal Music Masterworks Concert at Holy Family Cathedral, 8th & Boulder downtown.
Miss Jackson's, one of Tulsa's oldest continuously operating businesses, closed its doors today. The boutique, which catered to wealthy women, was founded in downtown Tulsa in 1910, was located from 1928 to 1965 in the Philtower at 5th and Boston, and relocated to Utica Square in 1965, on a site formerly occupied by Utica Bowl. (The transition from bowling alley to upscale boutique was a harbinger for the transformation of Utica Square from basic suburban shopping center -- which once had a Safeway, an OTASCO, and a T. G. & Y. -- to high-end fashion center.)
Miss Jackson's management announced in late October that the store would be closing in January.
Miss Jackson's included a fur salon and off-season cold storage for furs and a penthouse salon (leased departments, both of which will be continuing in other locations), cosmetics, imported chocolate, items for the home, jewelry, and ladies' apparel.
The store's self-description on the Utica Square website:
Tulsa's tradition for 100 years. The finest gifts, home accessories, cosmetics and designer clothing.
From chocolates to china, cosmetics to crystal, Miss Jackson's is your source for every indulgence. Find top fashion and fine jewelry in all price ranges, for any age. One of Tulsa's finest women's luxury emporiums, Miss Jackson's offers professional alterations, gift registry, gift wrapping and engraving. There is only one you, and only one Miss Jackson's. Visit us soon at Utica Square.
I went into Miss Jackson's exactly once, to pick up a wedding gift that a friend had ordered for us.
Nathan Presley's promotional film for the store's final Christmas season gives you a good look around the store, albeit in black-and-white. The model is Luiza Farber.
A blog entry from "B. on Brand" recounts a visit to Miss Jackson's:
Long before the world was taken over by major luxury giants, there existed the small fine goods retailer, shops that felt more like a gracious suburban home rather than a department store. Cities across the United States were anchored by such stores where generations of men and women shopped because of the personalized service, and because buyers knew their clients so well, they would make buys with certain customers in mind....
The store, located in Tulsa's upscale Utica Square, could almost be a set piece for a scene from Mad Men. A gleaming white midcentury building with its distinctive, cursive "Miss Jackson's" sign could easily be where a perfectly coiffed Betty Draper shops for a party frock. Inside, it's all suburban colonial, with white columns and moldings, wallpaper, and brass fittings. The store is filled with upholstered chairs, sweeping credenzas, big bold table lamps, and slightly over-the-top mid-century artwork....
Women in Tulsa speak of Miss Jackson's in reverent tones. "They make you feel like a princess," says Beverly Anderson, a business consultant who was born and raised in Tulsa and is very much a Miss Jackson's loyalist.
She began shopping at the store over forty years ago with her mother. "You're put in a large, comfortable dressing room, given a coke or a glass of wine - always with a straw -- and then someone races around the store and brings you gorgeous designer clothes to try on."
That "someone" is usually a sales associate who knows you well - and your closet even better. They know the names of your parents, your children, and where you went on holiday....
On a recent visit with Beverly the store hummed with activity, most of it from the plentiful sales associates who bustled about the small store arranging stock and meeting with merchants. "Good afternoon Miss Beverly," which was then echoed from sales associates scattered about the store. Virtually every customer who entered was greeted by name, often followed by lengthy conversation.
We were served Cokes in tall glasses emblazoned with the Miss Jackson's logo, and yes, with a straw. Beverly shared stories with a sales associate about her son, her life, and yes, even the status of her closet.
Indeed, Beverly's closets are testament to the power of Miss Jackson's on Tulsan women: several decades worth of carefully preserved clothes, all with the distinctive Miss Jackson's label sewn in, as prominent stores used to do....
The article describes the departments on each floor, mentions the store's wide range of designers represented in its relatively small size (33,000 sq. ft. of selling space), and notes its "trunk shows," featuring the work of a particular designer, "many hosted by the designers themselves."
According to the Miss Jackson's Facebook page, the stylists from the store's Penthouse Salon have relocated to 1619 S. Peoria. The fur salon, a sister store to Koslow's in Oklahoma City, is looking for a permanent home but will host a hotel sale later this month.
Miss Jackson's Facebook page has some photos from the store's history as well as promotions for sales events over the last few years.
A 2012 story on The List featured Miss Jackson's window displays, interviewing visual director Stacy Suvino and art director Rachel Everett.
Delta Air Lines' Sky magazine included Miss Jackson's in a list of about a dozen Tulsa shopping highlights.
A memorial service for Lee Roy Chapman will be held Wednesday, October 14, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. at Cain's Ballroom. All are welcome. A fund for the benefit of his five-year-old son, Kasper, has been set up at GoFundMe. Friends are sharing memories on the "Remembering Lee Roy Chapman" page on Facebook. I've posted his curriculum vitae on a separate page and will add links as I am able.
Thursday night I got the news that Tulsa historian and artist Lee Roy Chapman had died. He was 46. Tulsa lost a passionate curator and narrator of its history, someone who delved into aspects of our city's past that aren't publicized as points of pride.
I first met Lee Roy at Coffee House on Cherry Street some years ago. This intense but soft spoken man with dark eyes and the bushy brown beard of a prophet introduced himself, squatted next to the table where I was writing and gave me two small pinback buttons, as he told me about his effort to rename the Brady District to honor Bob Wills. The buttons featured his own graphic art. One of the two buttons featured a jubilant Bob Wills, cigar in hand, superimposed with the word "REVOLT!" in yellow lightning-bolt letters.
The other button featured Bob Wills' 1948 Flxible Clipper tour bus, which he had traced to a field near Big Spring, Texas. Lee Roy hoped to bring the bus back to Tulsa, restore it, put it on exhibit, and take it on tour. He put an option on the bus to hold it until he could raise the money to bring it home. In June 2013, with the help of Loren Frederick, Bob's bus returned to Tulsa.
While I didn't always agree with the conclusions he drew, I always appreciated the passion and persistence Lee Roy brought to digging out the facts and then presenting his findings to the public in a compelling way.
For example, in 2011, Lee Roy and a team of people converted the storefront at 13 E. Brady, the location of Benny's Billiards in Francis Ford Coppola's Rumblefish and turned it into an art installation about the film. A video about the installation (embedded below) caught the attention of Chilean author Alberto Fuguet, who had been inspired by Rumblefish to write about the ordinary stuff of life. Fuguet had been working on a documentary about the film and its influence on Latin American writers and filmmakers. Fuguet had visited Tulsa a few months earlier and had been frustrated by his inability to connect with locals who loved and appreciated the film. Through the installation video, Fuguet connected with Chapman, who became his second-unit director, gathering footage of Rumblefish locations around Tulsa and allowing Fuguet to complete his homage, Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James.
A man in the video says, "Lee Roy Chapman should be applauded for doing this.... That kind of energy and spirit really embodies what Tulsa is all about, in my mind, the best part of Tulsa."
I suspect that Rumblefish never caught the imagination of mainstream Tulsans because it was a Tulsa that had almost entirely succumbed to the urban renewal wrecking ball, a Tulsa that early '80s suburban mall rats didn't recognize as their own city.
Chapman was passionate about another body of artwork that mainstream Tulsa has ignored, the work of another curator of Tulsa's seamier side, photographer Larry Clark, whose 1971 book Tulsa depicted a teen underworld of drugs, guns, and sex. Chapman tried to persuade with Clark to do a retrospective of his work in Tulsa, as he had done in Paris, but without success; instead Chapman created a "guerrilla art installation," posting three-foot-by-five-foot prints of all of the images in the book in the ruins of the Big Ten Ballroom in north Tulsa. Photographer Western Doughty interviewed Chapman about the installation and published it in two parts on his blog: Part 1, Part 2. Here's what Chapman had to say about Tulsa's reaction to Tulsa, which gives you a sense of Chapman's own artistic mission:
[Clark's] work is representative of a whole side of Tulsa that still remains unseen. If it is ever seen by anyone, it's mocked. Tulsa tries to represent itself as this myriad of things, the first of which was the "Oil Capital of the World", but working to represent to the world wealth, class, prestige, and culture, there is a price; the working class has paid a price for that. And this book shows that price, all the drugs and violence, and all those excesses that come with being a part of the working class society. You're at war with main stream society, you're at war with the cops, and sometimes you're at war with yourself, and you can see that in the pages of this book. And for the book to be as well known, as influential as it has been, and for Tulsa not to have any representation of it here at all, not to have even tried, it's beyond neglect....
But the people who run the arts here, they want what every other city has. They want the A-lister stuff; they don't want anything that's organic. The formula has been that you have to move from here to become successful in the art world, either New York or L.A. I think some of that's changing, though, now....
Asked by Doughty if Clark's work had influenced him personally, Chapman replied:
Yeah, of course it has, to know that there is somebody living and running in not the same circles, but in similar circles, and has seen some of the things that I have. He was really one of the first photographers that documented the scene he was within, not coming as a photographer-colonizer. You know, "Oh, what a weird bunch. I think I'll take pictures of them." He was exposing his own secret. So I think that's the sign of a true artist, too. Of course, when you're dealing with other people, there are repercussions to that. But it's, for one, made me want to stay here in Tulsa and create, rather than going somewhere else. Two, it's made me want to force it on eyes that don't want to see it; I just think it's that important, not necessarily just his work, but that kind of work, that kind of organic, dirty, real work that only comes from the bottom up.
Chapman's last blog entry was about the Lew Clark Photography Studio on the west side of Peoria south of 15th Street. Lew and his wife Fran were Larry Clark's parents, and the little house that served as their studio, with the clock above the door and lighted portraits on display through the front windows, was a neighborhood landmark until a few years ago, when it was demolished for a parking lot.
It was Chapman who called attention to Tate Brady's connections to the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice. His exposé led to a public debate about Tulsa's founding father and the street, district, and neighborhood named in his honor. The debate received international attention and led to a compromise that left no one happy.
Chapman did some work for the George Kaiser Family Foundation (this silkscreen etching of Bob Wills from 2013) but that didn't stop him from taking some jabs at the billionaire and his incongruous ownership of Communist singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie's archives.
An inscribed first edition of Atlas Shrugged was found by George Kaiser, the billionaire banker and philanthropist, as he was unloading the materials from the back of truck last week.... Ms. Rand penned a nasty note on the title page; "Woody, you're a filthy [*******] hick. I hope you do gather all the poor together one day so they'll be easier to kill. One day a banker will own you. - Ayn"....
George Kaiser Family Foundation is kicking out the big bucks for a large scale mural of Woody Guthrie on the Tulsa Paper Company building, soon to be home of the Kaiser owned Woody Guthrie Archives, in the Brady Arts District. Is this mural supposed to offset the fact that the Guthrie Green and the entire district, has no representation or historic relevance to the park's namesake?
The original namesake for the green was to be the same as the district where the park is located, W. Tate Brady, architect of the Tulsa Race Riot and a founder of the Tulsa Ku Klux Klan.
Woody Guthrie's 1930 Slingerland May Bell is owned by the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'll betcha Woody wrote Jolly Banker on this one.
Lee Roy worked with the libraries of Yale, Duke, and the University of Tulsa, finding for and selling to these institutions books and ephemera relating to Tulsa history. Thanks to his efforts, Yale and Duke Universities have copies of the limited-printing original edition of Mary Parrish's first-hand account of the Tulsa race riot.
Last year, Lee Roy was kind enough to give me a sneak preview of an album of photos that were taken in the Greenwood District as it was being rebuilt following the 1921 Race Riot. The photos showed stylishly dressed African-American young adults posing in Deep Greenwood, out in the countryside, and at what may have been the Acme brick pits. These photos are now in the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library Special Collections and viewable online.
My last interaction with Lee Roy was indirect. A few weeks ago, my wife and youngest son were driving down 15th Street in the middle of the day when she noticed that Oak Tree Books was open. She had bought some bookshelves when the store was going out of business and was surprised to see it open, so she stopped in. Lee Roy was there. They chatted about books, children (he has a son a few years younger than ours), schools and homeschooling, and music. When he figured out that they were connected to me, he handed her a cassette album to pass along to me: "The Bob Wills Story: The Life and Music of the King of Western Swing," narrated by Hugh Cherry. There's a little Post-It stuck to the front: "Michael -- hope yr well. Lee Roy Chapman."
("The Bob Wills Story" is available for listening online at bobwillsradio.com.)
I was out of town at the time on an extended business and personal trip. I had intended to stop by and thank Lee Roy when I got back in town a week ago Tuesday, but getting back into the routine of family life distracted me, and it slipped my mind. And now it's too late.
The doors of The Marquee on North Main in Tulsa. Silkscreen art by Lee Roy Chapman, from a portion of a photo of Bob Wills in Indian headdress, when he was honored by the Osage Tribe. Photo found at topix.net.
Michael Mason of This Land Press posts a tribute, entitled "Lee Roy Chapman Is Still the King":
Last week brought the news that historian and journalist Lee Roy Chapman has passed away. Among the many roles he fulfilled, Chapman was a contributing editor at This Land and delivered some of our most well-known articles. He also hosted the Public Secrets video series, and was an ongoing resource in numerous other pieces. A polarizing yet beloved figure, Chapman leaves behind a rich legacy of scholarly work and groundbreaking journalism.
Below are links to the many works Chapman authored, along with videos in which he appeared. Besides being a skilled professional, Chapman was also a beloved colleague to many of us at This Land Press.
If your life has been enriched by Chapman's work, please consider donating to the Lee Roy Chapman Memorial Fund, the proceeds of which will go to the support of his son, Kasper Henry Chapman, age 5.
The video shown at Lee Roy's memorial, produced by Matt Leach, has been posted to Facebook. (I can't embed it here.)
Connor Raus has posted video of Lee Roy Chapman's 12-minute presentation "Twenty Shades of History Recovery" during PechaKucha 20x20 at Living Arts of Tulsa on April 12, 2013. It covers a range of topics, including the Race Riot, the impact of Brady District gentrification on the historic Greenwood District, Larry Clark, The White Dove Review, The Outsiders, Rumblefish, and Bob Wills's tour bus. It's a good overview of Lee Roy's range of interests and attitude.
So this is what I do. I read about this stuff, research it, and drive around and find this stuff. Some people care. Some people don't care. It doesn't pay. It's, like, horrible. I'm chronically unemployed. I'm obsessed....
In the Warsaw Ghetto, I don't think there's, like, an arts district named after Adolf Hitler. But Tate Brady is one of the few people that we know that actually participated in the Tulsa Race Riot, and did numerous other things.... If Woody Guthrie knew that he was in the Brady District, he would burn that park down....
Institutions aren't really that interested that much in what organically comes out of Tulsa. It's like it has to come from somewhere else....
(A quibble: To say that Tate Brady "participated" in the riot seems intended to lead the listener to conclude that Brady was part of the white mob that descended on Greenwood, killing African-Americans and torching their homes and businesses. But elsewhere Chapman says that Brady's participation was to stand guard on Main Street, well away from the battle lines, joining his neighbors in defending their buildings from any rioters. Some of the "numerous other things" that Chapman mentions were far more morally blameworthy -- his participation in the 1917 tarring and feathering of labor union activists, his membership in the Klan, his efforts to block the rebuilding of Greenwood after the riot -- but Chapman seemed to understand that saying that Brady "participated in the riot" communicated his unworthiness of honor in a way that needed no further explanation.)
Tributes to Lee Roy Chapman from friends, compiled by Josh Kline of The Tulsa Voice.
What follows is mainly from Lee Roy Chapman's LinkedIn profile. I thought that his list of accomplishments and the tributes from the people who worked with him needed a more permanent location. (You can read my tribute to Lee Roy Chapman here.) I will be adding to the list and adding links to articles and videos. Anything I've added is in italics.
Lee Roy Chapman is an independent scholar, journalist and historian specializing in the recovery of forgotten histories. In 2008, he established the Center for Public Secrets, a curated collection of artifacts that explores the sub-popular culture of Oklahoma. A longtime student of Oklahoma history with a special emphasis on race relations, art, and radical histories, Chapman has authored several articles that have received global attention. In 2011, he published "The Nightmare of Dreamland: Tate Brady and the Battle for Greenwood" in This Land magazine, which revealed that a founder of Tulsa was also an architect of the city's most violent hate crime--the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The article was lauded by historians such as Alfred Brophy and Scott Ellsworth, and has been cited by media companies ranging from National Public Radio to The Guardian.
Aside from his writings, Chapman has also produced and hosted several independent documentaries in which he discusses topics ranging from the Sex Pistols and the New York School of Poets to the art of Larry Clark as well as the hidden mass graves of African Americans in Tulsa. As a curator, Chapman has also located and acquired a number of important historical artifacts and artworks that now reside in university libraries and museums.
Chapman also frequently lectures in public and private forums, and has spoken to groups ranging from grade school students to university classrooms. His in-depth research into an eclectic range of subjects has earned him a reputation as an authority on Oklahoma culture and he regularly consults with foundations, companies, and private groups.
Center for Public Secrets
January 1999 - Present (16 years 10 months)TULSA
- 2008 "Public Secrets ," Liggett Studios, Tulsa, OK
- 2009 "Gaylord Herron"
- 2010 "The editors are not hipsters," Circle Cinema, Tulsa, OK. Warhol Screen Test
- 2011 "Larry Clark's Tulsa," Public Installation, Tulsa, OK.
- 2011 "Motorcyle Boy's Never Coming Back, " Bennie's Billiards [pop up] East End Gallery, Tulsa, OK. An autonomous installation featuring the work of S.E. Hinton, Francis Coppola and Gaylord Herron
- 2012 "Strangelove: An evening of Cold War Fear and Propaganda," [pop up], Church of the Christian Crusade, Tulsa, OK. Curated artifacts regarding radio pioneer Billy James Hargis Pop Up
- 2012 "Tulsa Time: The Graphic Legacy of Brian Thompson" Tulsa, OK. Presentation of iconic concert posters from an iconic artist.
- 2014 "This is not a Larry Clark Show," Arts and Humanities Center of Tulsa, OK. Video installation from James Payne and photography by Nick Haynes.
- 2014 "Locaciones: The influence of S.E. Hinton on South American culture," East Village Gallery, Tulsa, OK. Featuring photography from Western Doughty, Joe Cervantes and Gaylord Herron
- 2015 Let's Get Lost/Chet Baker Installation Yale, Oklahoma - Pending
2009 Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys 1948 Tour Bus
2010 Ted Berrigan's contributor's copy of the White Dove Review
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa
2011 A collection of Tulsa School of Poets printed materials
University of Tulsa McFarlin Library's Special Collections
2012 The Leon Russell Archive/Steve Todoroff Collection
OKPOP/Oklahoma Historical Society
2014 Events of the Tulsa Disaster
David Ruebenstein Library/Duke University
2014 Archive of 124 Greenwood reconstruction photographs from 1922
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa
2014 Alvin Krupnick 1921 Race Riot Relief 8x10 photo
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa
2015 B.C. Franklin Race Riot typescript, photos, scrapbooks
2015 Events of the Tulsa Disaster by Mary Jones Parrish
This Land Press
February 2011 - December 2014 (3 years 11 months)Tulsa, Oklahoma Area
Writer, producer and host of Public Secrets video and print series.
- "The Nightmare of Dreamland: Tate Brady and the Battle for Greenwood," September 2011, This Land
- "The Drexel Building," January, 2011, This Land
- "Anarchy in the OK: The Sex Pistols in Tulsa," January 2012, This Land
- "Who's Afraid of Elohim City," April 2012, This Land (with Josh Kline)
- "Meet the Clarks," November 2012, This Land
- "The Strange Love of Dr. Billy James Hargis," November 2012, This Land
- "Subterranean Psychonaut: The Strange and Dreadful Saga of Gordon Todd Skinner," July 2013, This Land (with Michael Mason and Chris Sandel)
- "Public Secrets: The White Dove Review" 2011 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Larry Clark's Tulsa" 2011 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Pantoja's Driving Lesson" 2011 This Land TV
- "Larry Clark's Return to Tulsa," 2012, Field Guide Media
- "Public Secrets: Joe Brainard" 2012 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Calvary Cemetery" 2012 This Land TV*
- "Public Secrets: Woody Guthrie" 2012 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Tate Brady" 2012 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Mass Graves" 2012 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Sex Pistols" 2012 This Land TV
- "Public Secrets: Historic Greenwood 40 Blocks" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: 1921 Tulsa Race Riots Reconnaissance Survey" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: Guthrie Green Park" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: Train Derailment" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: Cement Plaques" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: The Stem" 2013 BeInformedTV
- "Public Secrets: Standpipe Hill" 2013 BeInformedTV
Research and Discovery
Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture
May 2010 - May 2013 (3 years 1 month) Tulsa
Locating and acquiring information and artifacts for the Smithsonian Institution's NMAAHC.
Second Unit Director
June 2012 - July 2012 (2 months)Tulsa
Second unit director for Alberto Fuguet's Locaciones
"Mr. Chapman is a mind and a human engine to reckon with. He is outstanding in his brilliance, full of humor and wit, determined to tackle history and see it with new eyes and force of human empathy and drive.
I was able to meet and work with Lee Roy in a documentary I made on the symbiosis between Tulsa and the Francis Ford Coppola movie Rumble Fish. Lee Roy, as a advocate for Tulsa´s history and a historian and editor of the outstanding journal This Land helped me immensely, opened his heart and contacts and ended up being my director of second unit once I was back in Chile and felt I needed extra footage.
Lee Roy has turned is unfathomable knowledge about Tulsa and Oklahoma in
general in a creative way. He´s more than a historian or an academic; he is a writer,
a chronicler, a raconteur, a filmmaker and an over-all achiever. I know that when my
film was selected at the Telluride Film Festival last year, and was presented by
Francis Coppola, that Lee Roy was the one who helped get there."
- Alberto Fuguet
Raisin Cain LLC
2010 - 2012 (2 years)
Research and development
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
2006 - 2007 (1 year)
Assisted in the creation and production of artifact displays.
Acquisitions and Sales
Oak Tree Books
1998 - 2004 (6 years)
Locating, grading, mending, protecting, pricing, cataloging and selling rare and out of print books. Specializing in Native American and Oklahoma histories.
1993 - 1994 (1 year)
Pre-press, production and post-production of fine art serigraphs and rock posters. Prints are now part of University of Texas, Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, RocknRoll Hall of Fame and Cain's Ballroom.
Cecil Cloud III
Lee Roy Chapman: Dogged pursuer of truth, finder of artifacts, artist and independent filmmaker. A rare combination of knowledge, skill and determination,
always seeking a challenge. The man to turn to for obscure information and forgotten documents.
Chairman, Williams & Williams
Lee Roy has an artist's perception regarding location - the space where people, land and buildings interact; and a curator's instinct for what's relevant thereto. His passion for truth discovery is a courageous guide to what matters, regardless of the "winners" to date and powers that be that otherwise, and too often impersonally, impose their stamp at whatever costs. Lee Roy is an Oklahoma treasure, in that by stewarding what's just he also quite personally insures all that is creative and possible as between people and this land.
Editor, author, journalist
The combination of unparalleled knowledge of his subjects along with the ability to endow his work & research with broad vision makes Chapman a singular person in his field, and one of Oklahoma's best resources on matters relating to history and culture.
Museum Curator at Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of African American History and Culture
I continue to benefit from Lee Roy Chapman's expertise about Tulsa's and Oklahoma's history. Lee Roy is an outstanding writer and researcher whose skills in digging up crucial archives, stories, contacts and collections have proven invaluable to my work at the Smithsonian.
Lee Roy and his partner Jeremy Lamberton did a wonderful job shooting for three nights in Tulsa, OK. They went to awesome places, looking for the original locations of Rumble Fish, which was shot at Tulsa. Lee Roy as the director of the 2nd unit of documentary "Locations: Looking for Rusty James"
This Land Press has posted an item with links to many more of Lee Roy's articles and videos: "Lee Roy Chapman is still the king"
Lee Roy Chapman Flickr photostream: 511 photos from 2009 and 2010, including photos of the charred ruins of the Admiral Twin's original screens, images from the White Dove Review, an autographed copy of Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King Jr. and a program from his appearance at the 1960 Tulsa Freedom Rally, portions of the Bible in Choctaw, a biography of Sequoyah, books about Indian land allotments, Bob Wills 1948 tour bus (including the title), and Chapman's own artwork in various media.
There's a flat-roofed home that stands at the crest of a hill at 14th and Quaker, just east of Peoria Avenue. It's easy to spot as you pass by on the Broken Arrow Expressway heading into downtown. It sits in a narrow residential sliver between the expressway and the Cherry Street commercial district. With its strong horizontal lines, angular porch arches, and a smaller, flat-roofed second floor, it stands out from the craftsman bungalows that used to be typical of the area and the pricey modern condos that are replacing those bungalows.
Despite the similarity of the housing stock between the neighborhoods north and south of Cherry Street, the neighborhood to the north has never enjoyed historic preservation zoning protection. The distinctive home had fallen into disrepair, but I had noticed a few months ago on a walk through the neighborhood that someone was working on it.
Preservation Nation has an item today about the McGregor House, designed by Bruce Goff, and the Tulsan who undertook its restoration:
Mark Sanders had been driving by and looking at the McGregor House in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for more than 20 years. Something about the lines, he says, always appealed to him. He'd also heard rumblings that Bruce Goff -- known for being the mastermind behind some of Tulsa's most noteworthy buildings, including the Boston Avenue Methodist Church -- may have designed the home, but nobody ever had solid confirmation. So Sanders continued to drive by admiring the home's design.
But all that changed in 2013, when a For Sale By Owner sign was placed in the front yard of the home.
Sanders, who is a lawyer, decided to purchase the structure and restore it using historic tax credits.
An architect who knew Bruce Goff was able to confirm that Goff had designed it in 1919 or 1920, when he was still an intern at an architectural firm. Because of the connection to Goff, the home's local significance, and its importance to his early career, the home was accepted for the National Register of Historic Places, which in turn made it eligible for federal historic preservation tax credits, which can offset 20% of the cost of the restoration of a building's structure and mechanical systems.
It's great to know that you don't have to be a developer or an architect to restore a historic property. I'm sure it must have been a long and involved process, with setbacks and discouragements mixed in with the progress. I'd love to hear more of the story.
NOTE: The Kickstarter campaign to bring the Urban Tulsa Weekly archive back online has just three more days to run. We need $875 more in pledges to move forward. If you'd like to see this irreplaceable archive of a period of Tulsa history accessible online again, please make a pledge.
UPDATE: 2014/09/17: Raised a bunch yesterday. Now only $560 more in pledges needed to make this happen. Please make a pledge today.
UPDATE: 2014/09/19: We got close, but didn't quite make it -- $535 in pledges out of $1,000 needed. I waited too long to promote it and didn't set the pledge period long enough -- and you can't change it once the Kickstarter has been launched. We may try again, and I'm open to suggestions for how to do it better next time.
Urban Tulsa Weekly ceased publication in November 2013 after over 20 years as Tulsa's alternative newspaper. A few months later its web presence, UrbanTulsa.com, went offline, and with it went seven years of Tulsa's history. In its final incarnation, the site held the newspaper's stories from 2006 to 2013.
Urban Tulsa Weekly's writers covered indie music, art, and theater, local eateries and nightspots, sports, business, urban development, and local politics. The paper was often the first to report on new stars, new bands, and new trends. Without the stories and perspectives found in UTW, Tulsa's historical record is incomplete.
Since the website has gone offline, we've gone to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine looking for UTW stories that have become timely again, but we've found to our dismay that many of them were missed by the Internet Archive's webcrawlers. A group of former UTW writers is banding together to restore this piece of Tulsa history to the internet, and we need your help.
While I have all of the columns and stories that I submitted for publication (and retained the rights to republish them -- eventually I'll get them all online here), the same is not true of many other great writers and editors who contributed valuable insights on the state of Tulsa, Oklahoma -- its politics, sports, music, arts, and entertainment.
The good news is that, with the publisher's permission (which we have), the hosting provider can quickly put the UrbanTulsa.com archive back online and keep it online in a frozen, archive-only, ad-free state -- but there's a price. This Kickstarter will cover the initial cost of restoring the archive and keeping it online for three months.
During that initial period, we hope to get a complete scan from the Internet Archive, and we will be working on affordable ways to maintain the UrbanTulsa.com archive online in the long run. Funds above our initial goal will pay for additional months of hosting. With sufficient funding, access, and permission, we'd like to get the entire run of the paper online in some form.
Because we are not permitted to sell ads to support the site, we need your financial support to make this happen. Help restore and preserve this significant record of Tulsa's recent history with your pledge today.
This coming weekend, September 6 and 7, 2014, is the opening weekend of the Helmerich Center for American Research, a unit of the City of Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. The new facility is adjacent to the museum on Gilcrease Museum Road.
A weekend full of free events is planned, including Native American and Latin American dancers, the Cherokee National Youth Choir, red dirt/Americana band The 66. There will be lectures on art and history, art-making, kite-flying, and map-reading activities for children. Food trucks will be on hand and the museum restaurant will be open. It would be easy to spend the entire weekend out there.
Legendary guitarist, singer, picker and grinner Roy Clark, fiddler Jana Jae, and the Tulsa Playboys will perform together on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage. The event is free and unticketed; seating is first come, first served.
The Red Dirt Rangers will close out the weekend Sunday evening at 4 p.m.
Because of limited parking at Gilcrease, visitors are encouraged to park in designated lots downtown and take a five-minute shuttle ride to the museum.
MORE: Here's an earlier -- much earlier -- performance of Orange Blossom Special with Roy Clark and Tulsa Playboys bandleader Shelby Eicher. Eicher shows up about 7:40 into the video.
Our family was among those huddled under a tent as the cold drizzle continued into mid-afternoon. We were delighted to listen to the Cherokee National Choir sing songs like "Take the Name of Jesus with You," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "I'll Fly Away" in the language of Sequoyah. Around 2:05, a few minutes after the choir left the stage, the Tulsa Playboys began to set up. They were in place, but there was some inexplicable delay. A sound check began after the show was scheduled to start, and it was quickly apparent that the sound man had no earthly idea what he was doing.
Tulsans of a certain age will remember John F. Lawhon as a pioneer of the owner-as-spokesman TV ad.
John F. Lawhon died Tuesday at the age of 86. Services will be Saturday, August 16, 2014, at Schaudt-Teel Funeral Service, 5757 S. Memorial Dr., Tulsa.
Lawhon founded a chain of furniture stores, the John F. Lawhon Furniture Warehouse and Showroom, with his flagship in Tulsa on Pine Street between Sheridan and Memorial.
Lawhon's distinctive accent and cadence was a popular target for amateur impressionists, and Lawhon had enough of a sense of humor about himself to sponsor a sound-a-like contest -- a contest that then-grade-schooler and future actor/writer/director Tim Blake Nelson won.
On the Tulsa TV Memories website, John Hillis remembers Lawhon participating in KOTV News's "Chughole of the Week" feature about the disgraceful state of our city's streets: "If you're looking for the best chughole buy in Oklahoma...." Lawhon extended the theme to Detroit in this spoof ad, recalling when the Great Lakes themselves started out as chugholes:
I'm sure that many of you have noticed the many large chugholes on our streets here in the city of Detroit lately. Well, I've been given a commission by the city to dispose of these chugholes. Inasmuch as they do not intend to repair them, I've been given permission to sell them.
Most of you who are old timers can remember when some of the Great Lakes were just chugholes on our city streets, and look at what a great real estate investment that would have been. Why, the Detroit River was only about this big the first time one man I talked to saw that chughole.
These chugholes are being offered on convenient terms, and we're throwing in three Volkswagens in one of them that we found after we acquired the chughole. If you'd like a super real estate buy, call me: 296-4100 for further information on available chugholes in your area. Thank you.
After retiring from the furniture business, Lawhon became an author and speaker on the subject of sales and marketing, writing two books, Selling Retail and The Selling Bible. His focus was on selling with integrity -- not merely overcoming a customer's objections, but "supplying the knowledge and information that the prospective customer needs to make the best buying decision" who will become satisfied customers "who become more satisfied as time goes by."
In a 1995 Tulsa World story about The Selling Bible by John Stancavage, Lawhon described his post-retirement quest to understand the success of super-salesmen who could make a sale four out of five times:
Lawhon's book probably will be controversial because it explodes the image of the "big closer" salesperson who bears down hard on customers until they buy simply to escape the mounting pressure. When the author talked to real top sellers, he found a totally different approach in common with almost all of them.
The real key for these salespeople was pleasing the customer, Lawhon discovered. Instead of trying to shove a product customers didn't want down their throats, super salespeople simply asked what the customers wanted, and then steered them toward a product or service that would satisfy that desire. Frequently, the salesperson soon was writing up a ticket, before a formal "pitch" had even been made.
These very successful sellers, however, would continue their presentation after money already had changed hands. They would explain the product's features and strong points, which would make the customer feel even better about his or her purchase and look forward to ownership.
A very important thing hapened here, Lawhon found: Regular customers became satisfied customers. And you cannot overestimate the value of a satisfied customer, the author says.
"Satisfied customers are the most valuable asset a company can have -- they actually are an appreciating asset," according to Lawhon. "They will return to buy again, and will tell their friends to shop there, too."
Lawhon employee Vince Mooney remembered Lawhon's generosity and professionalism, writing this tribute on his memory page:
I always felt that John Lawhon treated me like a son when I worked at JFL Furniture. I was ex-Air Force and a philosophy major in college. John loved to talk philosophy. After he bought a rare and very expensive car he'd often come and ask me if I wanted to use it on a date. He was the most generous man I ever met in business. An executive once admired his new digital watch which was the first to come out on the market. John took it off his wrist and gave it to the man. At one time John and I were the same size so he would give me really nice sport jackets and pants that he had worn only one or twice on TV commercials. He wanted me to look good on dates.
When I got engaged, John insisted I get a big diamond ring as a sign of my sincerity. "I can get it below wholesale for you," he said. And he did. (I'm sure he subsidized the ring to some extent.) Then he let me use the New Orleans condo for our honeymoon. This was right in the middle of the French Quarter. Now I was just the company copywriter, photographer, and PR person. John didn't know me before I came to Tulsa for that job.
Later I was the FTC policeman who audited all John's TV commercials to make sure he didn't ad-lib any FTC advertising violations (like calling something a Spanish Bedroom when it was not made in Spain). I'd stop the commercial and tell him, "That has to be Spanish design bedroom." John would grump and complain and then he'd cut the commercial the right way. Every time. It was amazing. John would cut a dozen commercials without a script or even fact sheet.
He knew the furniture inside and out and he was the best person there was to do the sales pitch. John could cut commercials faster than the warehouse people could set up the next piece of furniture. John was the type of 'larger than life' individual who would easily be many people's choice as my 'most memorable character' which was once a feature in Reader's Digest. John F. Lawhon will always live larger than life in my heart. John was a good man who was an honor to know. God bless John and all his family.
Anyone else feel particularly sad that this accomplished man seems to have been overlooked in his own town these past twenty years?
Not only is TulsaTVMemories.com a great place to learn about Tulsa's broadcasting history from the men and women who made it, it's a great place to discover (or relive, if you lived through it the first time) Tulsa's pop culture past. The site has recently upgraded its "Group Blog," where you can ask questions and share anecdotes with Tulsa media legends.
Forty years ago today, June 8, 1974, there was a massive tornado outbreak and widespread flash flooding in northeastern Oklahoma. At least 10 tornadoes touched down (possibly more from the long-track supercell that killed 12 Drumright residents and two others). For Tulsans who were kids in the '70s, it was the first major weather disaster we had witnessed.
According to the National Weather Service, it was Tulsa's costliest weather disaster to date and has since been surpassed only by the 1984 Memorial Day Flood and the 1993 Tulsa/Catoosa tornado. Two F3 tornadoes passed through Tulsa's city limits, the second one touching down before the first one had finished with us.
Everyone had heard about an "old Indian legend" that the hills and the bend of the river protected Tulsa from tornados. But which Tulsa? The settlement around the Creek Council Oak? The Tulsa of 1918 that didn't extend south beyond 21st Street or east of Lewis? The Tulsa of 1957, when the newly completed expressway connecting the turnpikes was dubbed "Skelly Bypass"? The Tulsa of 1974 reflected the tripling in Tulsa's size that took place in 1966. All the tornado damage occurred in areas beyond Tulsa's early-day boundaries, and Brookside was the only area within the pre-1966 boundaries that was damaged.
The east Tulsa neighborhoods around 21st and Garnett that were hit were mostly very new at the time. Nearby neighborhoods were hit by another tornado on December 5, 1975. I always thought of the area as a tornado magnet.
It was a Saturday, and Mom had taken me to Oertle's (a locally owned department store 26th & Memorial) so that I could buy a gerbil. I had wanted a gerbil because I had seen one at school -- I forget whether it had belonged to the teacher or to a classmate. I named her Herbie, because a gerbil's shape reminded me of a Volkswagen Beetle. We came home with Herbie, a plastic Habitrail Deluxe Set (the big cage with the wheel and the tower), and official Habitrail food and litter. (Everything was orange or yellow. It was the '70s.) I seem to recall we were in a hurry to get home because storms had been forecast and the sky looked ominous.
There had already been tornadoes in Oklahoma City earlier in the afternoon. We would have been listening to KRMG on the AM-only radio in our Chevy Kingswood Estate station wagon as we drove home.
Some time after we got home we heard the tornado warning on the radio. Although we lived in Wagoner County, we were in the far northwest corner, in the then-unincorporated Rolling Hills subdivision, so we paid attention when Tulsa County's name was called for a storm.
In our little house at 416 S. 198th East Ave., there was no basement, so taking cover meant that Dad pulled the foam mattress out of the back of the station wagon and the four of us huddled under it in our little hallway. Someone, probably Dad, also opened the windows away from the direction of the storm, in hopes of equalizing pressure and preventing the house from exploding. (That practice is now deprecated.)
Sometime after the storm had passed, my mom's next-to-youngest sister and her husband arrived. They had been at the Camelot Hotel for an event and were stuck in traffic on I-44 for hours trying to get to our house.
Mobile phones were practically non-existent. None of the TV stations had radar. I think weather radio existed, but we didn't have one.
Those are my memories of June 8, 1974. What are yours?
KJRH spoke to ORU Dean Clarence Boyd, Jr., who was a student on the second floor of an ORU dorm that lost its third floor to the tornado.
KOTV talked to residents of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, which was damaged by the second Tulsa tornado. One house was damaged by a piece of the ORU administration building from almost a mile away.
Tulsa World has a collection of its photos from the June 8, 1974, tornado aftermath.
TulsaTVMemories.com has a photo of the tornado damage in Brookside north of the KTEW/KVOO studios and the recollections of Michael Evans, who rode out the storm in Tulsa's first and at the time only Arby's at 42nd and Peoria.
I locked the south door and noticed I could no longer see across the street. I turned to lock the north door and out of the corner of my eye saw both picnic tables were airborne. My reaction was to flinch because milliseconds later they pushed through the glass front. I have no idea what happened after that because for about 20 minutes I was unconscious.
Stacy Richardson was on the air on KAKC, in the Trade Winds West at 51st and Peoria, the night of the tornadoes, at least until the power went out for every AM station except one. Sonny Hollingshead remembers tornado damage to Bell's at the Fairgrounds. David Bagsby remembers going to 31st and Mingo to try to rescue a friend stuck in a flash flood. Tulsa also received five inches of rain that night. More Tulsa tornado memories. More Tulsa tornado memories. Even more Tulsa tornado memories. Still more Tulsa tornado memories.
The Tornado Project has a list of all tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma between 1950 and 2012.
For the first time in a long time, I have an article in print. The May 15, 2014, edition of This Land Press includes my history of the lost neighborhood just north of downtown Tulsa. Criss-crossed by streets but now devoid of buildings, this neighborhood was established about 100 years ago, was a thriving neighborhood as recently as 50 years ago, and still had residents 10 years ago. What happened? Pick up a copy of This Land Press at your friendly neighborhood coffeehouse, bookstore, or restaurant to read the story. (UPDATE: "Steps to Nowhere" is now online.)
I wrote far more than there was room to publish. In particular, I wish there had been more room for the personal recollections that were entrusted to me. I had to whittle them down considerably to have room to get the basic framework across. If there's an enthusiastic response to this story, I hope to have the opportunity to include some of those anecdotes in future stories. Since the story was submitted, I met several more former residents with interesting stories to tell; perhaps more photos and anecdotes will surface now that the story is in print.
I've posted an album of photographs, some taken by me earlier this year, some I took from 2007 (before OSU resculpted Standpipe Hill and planted a tower on top, and photos and images from neighborhood residents Martin Reidy, Bill Leighty, and other sources: Tulsa's Lost Near Northside. Included is this annotated 1967 aerial photo of Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood.
Bill Leighty, one of the former residents I interviewed for the story, has posted his detailed reminiscences of his Near Northside childhood on his Smart Growth Tulsa blog.
I found some additional info about the Boston Beer Garden, a neighborhood fixture for 46 years, destroyed by fire in 1983.
The East Village District Association, on the eastern edge of downtown Tulsa, is holding its second Second Saturday street festival this Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 11 am to 4 pm, at the corner of 3rd and Lansing. The event will feature local music, art, vendors, and food trucks.
The East Village is bounded by Elgin Ave. and the east leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop, between 3rd Street and 11th Street, plus the area between the Frisco tracks and 3rd Street east of Greenwood Ave. Until work on the IDL began in 1967, the area had been seamlessly connected to the Pearl District, but somewhat separated from downtown by the Midland Valley tracks.
The heart of the district is a cluster of one- and two-story buildings near the intersection of 3rd and Kenosha. Kenosha is the eastern boundary of Tulsa's original townsite, in which the streets were laid out parallel and perpendicular to the Frisco railroad tracks. East of Kenosha is the Hodge Addition, aligned with the compass. The terminating vistas created by this collision of conflicting grids inspired then-resident Dave Berray to propose the name Hodge's Bend for the neighborhood association he helped to organize. If I recall correctly, Berray was anxious to distinguish the cluster of older buildings that were already being reused and already becoming a neighborhood from whatever massive redevelopment might take place on the former industrial lands to the south.
The potential of the East Village for urban revival was recognized as early as December of 1990, when Spaghetti Warehouse announced plans to locate in the old Crane Warehouse at 623 E. 3rd Street, about a year after the chain had opened in Oklahoma City's Bricktown. The following August, the building was gutted by arson, just as renovations were set to begin, and that December, Spaghetti Warehouse bought a building in the Brady Village area, triggering renewed interest in the warehouse district north of the Frisco tracks, but leaving the East Village to its own devices.
The East Village's comeback gained momentum in the late '90s, as artists (specifically theatrical scenery artists) discovered this area within the IDL that had been overlooked by urban renewal and was too far from the downtown office cluster to be worth clearing for parking. City leaders planned to demolish the neighborhood to make way for a soccer stadium, but the defeat of the Tulsa Project city sales tax in 1997 saved the East Village from oblivion. Living Arts moved to a temporary location on Kenosha in 2000 and stayed there for nine years.
Since that time, buildings have been renovated for residential, commercial, and office use, mainly along 3rd, Kenosha, and Lansing. There have been several proposals for major development in the large tracts of land between 4th and 7th streets, former sites of Nordam, Bill White Chevrolet, Fire Station No.1, and the Tulsa Coliseum, but none have come to fruition. As always, the momentum for redevelopment has been in reusing old buildings that are still standing; new construction is still somewhere off in the future.
In 2011, All Souls Unitarian Church, the largest U-U congregation in the US, announced plans to locate on the former site of the Page-Glencliff Dairy and later Fields Downs Randolph, between 6th and 7th, Frankfort and Kenosha.
The East Village District Association plans to hold a street festival the second Saturday of every month.
I wrote about 3rd and Kenosha in Urban Tulsa in October in 2005, and again here on BatesLine in 2006, about the 1997 letter from Allison Geary that alerted me to the neighborhood's plight.
Mike Easterling wrote a cover story about the East Village in the March 25, 2009, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.
Emerson Elementary School, north of downtown Tulsa at 909 N. Boston Ave, will celebrate its centennial this Friday night, May 2, 2014, from 6 to 8 pm. Dinner will be provided by Elote and music by Muskogee's Wild Card Band. There will be a silent auction to benefit the school's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 11-17. Visit Emerson's "purchases and donations" page to buy tickets and centennial T-shirts.
In researching a story about the neighborhood south of Emerson, I've enjoyed talking to a number of alumni who attended the school in the '40s and '50s and getting to know the school's long and fascinating history.
Emerson School dates its birth from its authorization in Tulsa's 1913 school bond issue. A April 14, 1915, story, headlined "BUILD NEW SCHOOL ON THE NORTH SIDE: Buy Block In Kirkpatrick Heights for a Unit Building," reported:
Amicably settling the slight dissention [sic] which recently arose between the North Side Improvement association and the city school board, it was decided at the meeting of the school board last night to purchase a block of ground in the Kirkpatrick Heights addition for a new school site and build an entirely new unit school at that place. In view of the unsafe condition of the Sequoyah school, for a large number of children, it was decided to diminish the attendance there as well as repair the building and render it safe as far as possible.
It is thought probable that the Osage school, which is a grade school, would never likely grow very much, shall be made the location for the manual training and domestic science departments for the more advanced students of the north side. This will prevent their having to go as far south as the central high school or as far east as Washington school to take that course of study. Members of the North Side Improvement association present expressed themselves before the board and privately as being entirely satisfied with the arrangement.
(On the same page, a box score and news story announced that the Tulsa World-Democrat newsboys baseball team, the Newsies, had defeated Bellview (Lincoln) elementary school 7-6 and Horace Mann elementary 10-2 in a Sunday afternoon double header. For more information about the concerns of this period for school building soundness and safety, see "'JITNEY' SCHOOLS ARE 'ALL BLOWED UP'" in the September 8, 1915, Tulsa World.)
A month later, on May 19, 1915, the school board approved, with one member dissenting, the purchase of a block in Kirkpatrick Heights and rejecting the Mary Davis site. (That may be a reference to the Davis-Wilson Heights Addition, on the east side of Cincinnati at the top of Sunset Hill. The same page discusses work on the Detention Home and has an ad from the Tulsa Theatre Managers Association about a wildcat strike by union musicians, stagehands and operators.)
A Sunday, September 19, 1915, news story about the reopening of the school year the following day announces that enrollment for the new school in Kirkpatrick Heights would be held at Osage (Fairview west of Denver) and Sequoyah Schools (Boston and Easton) "A separation of the district will be made, as soon as the building is completed." A January 4, 1916, story reports that Emerson school "will be occupied tomorrow," with only one further school from the last bond issue to be completed (Riverview).
NOTE: It appears that the Oklahoma Historical Society had the photo backwards. Based on aerial photos, the auditorium was on King Street, second building east of Boston. When reversed, the photo matches the slope of the land.
Emerson has had two incarnations. Its first was as a campus on the east side of Boston between King and Latimer Streets, occupying about half a block and built according to the "unit plan" devised by school board member H. O. McClure, namesake of a Tulsa park and school. Each unit consisted of two classrooms with its own restrooms and cloakrooms. As enrollment grew, additional units would be built, gradually enclosing an inner courtyard. One two-story building housed the auditorium and school offices. The plan was innovative and received national attention. While many unit plan schools, including Emerson, have been demolished, a few remain, and most have been put to other purposes: Lee School at 21st and Cincinnati, Irving School at 1st and Nogales, Pershing School in Owen Park neighborhood, and Lincoln School at 15th and Peoria. In some cases, like Lincoln and Irving, units were constructed around multistory school buildings.
The courtyard wasn't big enough for baseball; little league games were played several blocks north at Cheyenne Playground.
Prior to school desegregation, Emerson was a school for whites only. After Brown v. Board of Education, starting in 1955, a few African-American children enrolled in the school. Bill Leighty, who was an Emerson student at the time, remembers that the change was uneventful and the new students were welcomed. Over the next 20 years, changing school boundaries and changing residential patterns (influenced in part by the urban renewal demolition of Greenwood and the displacement of its residents) resulted in Emerson becoming a majority African-American school; 87.4% in the 1975-1976 school year.
The second, modern incarnation of Emerson began in 1975, as part of a plan to desegregate schools without forced busing. Tulsa proposed, and the Federal judge accepted, a plan to build a new Emerson School as a magnet, to complement new magnet schools at Carver Middle School and Washington High School. Charles Johnson Elementary, located in the old Washington building in the Greenwood district, and which had been one of the segregated "separate" schools for African-Americans, would be closed and merged into Emerson. Longfellow, at 6th and Peoria, had been closed and merged into Johnson for the 1972-1973, to try to create a balanced student body.
Building this superschool involved the creation of a superblock, demolishing the original buildings and the houses on the rest of its block, the block to the south, and two blocks to the west. Forty-six single-family homes, three duplexes, seven apartment buildings, and a small retail building at 14 E. Latimer (home in in 1957 to Tulsa Nozzle and Valve, in 1967 to the Edge of Night beer joint) were removed. King Street was closed between Cincinnati Ave (now MLKJr Blvd) and Main, and Boston Ave was closed between Jasper Street and Latimer Street.
The new Emerson, which opened its doors in 1976, had a brand new, modern building, innovative curriculum offerings, and highly-credentialed teachers. From a 1977 report to the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights about the desegregation of Tulsa schools:
On April 24, 1975, District Judge Frederick Daugherty issued an order with regard to Emerson Elementary School. The order approved the school districts request to build a new elementary school based on an expansion of the existing Emerson campus. Student assignment changes were made by consolidating the enrollments of Emerson and Johnson Elementary Schools. The court stipulated that the new Emerson must maintain a black enrollment of not more than 50 percent. The school district, expanding on its previous successes at Burroughs Little School, Carver Middle School, and Washington High School, sought voluntary white student enrollment. The court had made it quite clear that, if the voluntary approach did not work, the district would have to take other action to maintain the prescribed racial enrollment in the new school.
The new Emerson Elementary, which opened in September 1976, formed the final link in a complete K-12 alternative school program where students can experience individualized, continuous-progress learning in a racially desegregated environment. The total enrollment of 700, with a 50-50 black-white ratio, consists of approximately 500 neighborhood children and an additional 200 white student volunteers. Children in grades K-3 are located in a special area with ready access to other activity areas. The curriculum emphasizes communication skills and mathematics taught by a team of teachers. Enrichment experiences include music, drama, and creative arts at this level.
Children in grades three through six have three time blocks of 110 minutes each allotted to communication skills, math-science, physical education, and humanities. Additional instruction in music is available on the violin, guitar, and piano beginning at the third-grade level.
Although the main emphasis is on basic skills geared for individualized instruction, the curriculum stresses a humanities program. Children at Emerson have access to a piano laboratory, a potter's wheel, instruction in dance and drama, and a miniature television studio where they can produce their own shows. The curriculum features a creative learning center where children may engage in enrichment experiences in the arts, crafts, plant growing, and creative writing. This component of the curriculum is closely articulated with the exploratory curriculum at Carver Middle School so that Emerson students can continue their entire public school education through similar programs at Carver Middle School and Washington High School.
Today, Emerson is the neighborhood school for a three-square mile area that includes all of downtown within the Inner Dispersal Loop plus an area bounded by the L. L. Tisdale Expressway, Peoria Avenue, Pine Street and 11th Street. It feeds into Central Junior and Senior high schools. At the start of this academic year, Emerson had 311 students and 23 teachers. 95% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. 70% of the students are African-American. Student attendance rate last year was 94%.
From p. 3 of the August 23, 1922, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:
A building permit was issued Tuesday to the Jewish Institute, which is to be located at 629 N. Main street. The plans call for a one-story building and basement, with a large assembly hall. The cost is estimated at $20,000.
From p. 3 of the August 27, 1922, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:
The cornerstone of the Jewish Institute of Tulsa will be laid on Tuesday evening, August 28, at 8 o'clock at 627 North Main. This institution, when completed, will be equipped with a spacious hall for dances and mass meetings, club rooms, reading rooms, library, chess room and various facilities for games, a kitchen for the catering for Jewish social affairs, and other attractions that will make the Jewish Institute a center of Jewish social life.
Here's a description of the institute's location and purpose from the article about Tulsa by the Institute of Southern Jewish Life:
Members of B'nai Emunah built a Jewish Institute, designed to be a community center, in 1922. Reflecting the scattered nature of the Orthodox synagogue's membership, the Jewish Institute was 1.5 miles away from B'nai Emunah. Nevertheless, the Orthodox synagogue's Talmud Torah school started meeting at the Institute, a vast improvement over the shul's basement, where they had been meeting. The B'nai Emunah sisterhood, which had been founded in 1921, held their meetings and functions at the Institute. The heyday of the Jewish Institute was short-lived, as financial troubles forced it to close in 1930. The building was still used by Jewish groups occasionally. Later in the 1930s, member of B'nai Emunah who lived on the northside met there for high holiday services since they lived too far from the synagogue to walk there. Abe Borofsky and Harold Smith were the lay leaders for the northside group.
I believe this is a photo of the Jewish Institute. The synagogues in Tulsa at the time were B'nai Emunah, a two-story building at 10th and Cheyenne, and Temple Israel, at 14th and Cheyenne. Both two-story buildings were topped by domes. This building better fits the newspaper's description of the Jewish Institute.
The Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.
The World's front page was almost entirely devoted to the impending Mexico invasion. Above the masthead, a red banner headline read "LAND MARINES 48 HOURS." The lead story announced "WILL SEIZE CUSTOM HOUSES AT TAMPICO AND VERA CRUZ WED." The only interruption was a "WARNING!" in the bottom center of the front page that the rival Democrat was producing a cheap imitation of the World's pink-paper special 6 p.m. sports edition with all the baseball scores.
The Whirled had the local angle, with a story about men across the state wiring and telephoning the Oklahoma National Guard's adjutant general to volunteer to fight in Mexico, and one special volunteer who offered to organize a special unit for any expedition:
Tulsa came to the front in the Mexican crisis last night when "Geenral" [sic] Tate Brady wired Senator [Thomas] Gore, asking for authority to raise a regiment of Indian cavalry volunteers to serve should war break out with Mexico. His telegram follows:
"Senator Thomas P. Gore, Washington:
"The first man to lay down his life on Cuban soil for flag and country was Milo Hendrix, an Indian boy. In the great war between the states, the Indian people sent their full quota to both northern and southern armies. No soldiers were braver. They are specially qualified for duty in the mountains of Mexico. Proud of being a Cherokee citizen, I ask the president through you, if volunteers are called for, for the privilege of organizing a regiment of Indian cavalry for duty at the front.
(Signed) "TATE BRADY"
(The Democrat had Brady's letter on p. 10, the back page of this addition.)
Page 2 of the World announced movies every evening in the 1,200 capacity "airdome" at the Sand Springs Park. On page 4, we learn that the Tulsa baseball club in the Western Association is looking for a new name and will pay $10 in "real money" to the person who makes the winning suggestion. "'Oilers' is too common, as several teams in past years have had that moniker." Page 4 also has another tribute to Tate Brady, this time for his business acumen in moving his dry goods store from the a leased space on the south side to his Brady Hotel just north of the Frisco tracks. "Last year he retailed nearly ninety-one thousand dollars for cash and this year so far has been 44 per cent over last."
On the same page, The New Fashion Store at 112 E. 2nd Street cashes in on war fever with a quarter-page ad headlined:
ON RETAIL PRICES IN TULSA
(They bought a full-page ad in the Democrat, p. 8, with the same headline.)
According to a Santa Fe ad on p. 7, you can take Train 202 out of Tulsa at 8 a.m., arrive in Kansas City at 5:15 p.m., take in dinner and a show, then catch the Oil Flyer at 2:30 a.m. (but sleepers are available at 11:30 p.m.), arriving back in Tulsa at 11:30 a.m. A caricature of the dapper "University Four" announces their upcoming show, "A Bit of Harmony" at the Lyric Theater.
The Democrat devoted only three of its seven front-page columns to the Mexico story. The big local story was preparations to send a delegation of Tulsans to the United Confederate Veterans convention in Jacksonville, Fla., to try to land the 1915 convention for Tulsa. A delegation of 200 men would take a special train to Jacksonville, over the southern route through Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Montgomery. In the two weeks before the UCV convention, 5,000 booklets about Tulsa, featuring a photo of the new convention hall, would be distributed in "the larger cities of the south."
A big chunk of the Democrat's front page is devoted to a sort of Socratic dialogue (headlined "Cloistered Conversations") between a Mr. Hymn and a Mr. Rockefeller concerning the latter's monopolistic oil pricing practices and the possibility of a shutdown of Oklahoma drilling in response to a decline in the price of oil. Page 2 has more on that topic, and a story about Oklahoma's desire to purchase unplatted islands and lands in the bed of the Arkansas River from the Department of the Interior. The question hinges in part on the navigability of the river. Another lengthy feature about Standard Oil's methods is on p. 4.
Page 3 of the Democrat has a big display ad decrying the folly of paying $30 a month or more in rent when you could instead by a new home in Crosbie Heights Addition, served by two streetcar lines, a mere 10 blocks from "down town," where "the scenery is splendid, the air is pure and free from the dirt and grime of the congested district of down town. In such location the children and wife will find health and happiness during the hot summer months. The altitude is such that you will find it coll during the hot nights of the coming summer."
Speaking of streetcars, the same page announces that the Tulsa Street Railway will install a new switch on North Cheyenne Avenue, enabling more cars and more frequent service -- every seven minutes -- and the possibility of an extension of the North Main Street line. Meanwhile, the new line to the Bellview addition (3rd to Madison to Fostoria to Quincy, ending just south of 15th Street) would run on a 12-minute headway with the Owen Park line. The headways had been 18 minutes before recent improvements.
Also reported on page 3 of the Democrat, the Lutherans, led by the Rev. C. W. Sifferd, broke ground on April 21, 1914, for a new building on the southeast corner of 5th and Elwood, designed by George Winkler. The church had a membership of 140, but were building the new church to hold 750, with a full basement for Sunday school classrooms. (The building stood until demolished to make way for the Tulsa County Courthouse. First Lutheran Church relocated to 13th and Utica.)
As yet undeveloped, land near Boston Ave. and Haskell St. was the temporary home of lions, tigers, apes, and monkeys -- the Con T. Kennedy Shows and Hackman Animal Circus had come to town. (These days, the land is again re-undeveloped and could once again play host to a circus tent and midway.)
Page 6 of the Democrat reported the Western Association's 140 game schedule. Tulsa would open at home on May 1, starting a three-game series with the recently reinstated Muskogee club. Elsewhere on the page, the Tulsa school board was mulling plans to condemn a block of land to expand Riverview School. The board was ready to advertise plans to construct the new $300,000 High School, so that construction could start as soon as the state Attorney General approved the $500,000 bond issue. It hadn't been decided whether to build on the same block as the current school or a different one.
The 1914 City of Tulsa election, to be held the following day, would be a snoozer and warranted a mention only on the bottom right corner of page 7. The Democratic slate of city commission candidates were all unopposed, but the election had to be held in order to comply with the city charter.
A legal notice on p. 9 announced the sealed-bid auction of the Kaffir Corn Palace, on the grounds of the County Farm, on N. Lewis between Archer and the Frisco tracks. The building, celebrating what we call sorghum, was the centerpiece of the 1913 International Dry Farming Congress.
And finally, the classified ads on the back page of the World include a black manorca cockerel for sale at 901 No. Cheyenne (eggs, too), rooms for rent (inquire at the Coney Island Café), and this touching personal:
NOTICE--Would like to correspond with some lady that wants a home and is willing to help make one. I am 48 years old, light complexioned and blue eyes, don't swear nor drink, but still I am not perfect. Address William Colson, Columbus, Kansas.
On this day 100 years ago, Tulsa's "new" Majestic Theater opened its doors to the public. The grand opening was announced with an ad and story on page 5 of the previous day's Tulsa Daily World:
OPENS TOMORROW---SATURDAY---APRIL 18
HIGH CLASS MOTION PICTURES.
Music by the
MARVELOUS UNIT ORCHESTRA.
"The Instrument with a Human Voice."
Don't miss this show. A good place to take the family.
Open at 1:30 p.m., showing continuously until 11 p.m.
Adults 10 cents, Children 5 cents.
Vitagraph's Big Circus Drama in Two Parts
"THE FRUITS OF VENGEANCE."
A thrilling drama of life in the Big White Tents.
Fine Lubin Production
"THE LITTLE HERO."
Let the Kiddies see this.
Essanay Laugh Producer
"THREE BABES IN A FLAT."
A clever comedy satire.
TULLY MARSHALL and the original New York cast, presenting
"PAID IN FULL."
The accompanying news item:
Messrs. McCarty & Rothstein take great pleasure in announcing the opening tomorrow, Saturday afternoon and evening, of the New Majestic theater. During the past month the theatre has been in the hands of carpenters, painters, decorators, etc., and has been completely altered and improved, now presenting a most attractive appearance, one that will meet with the approval of all patrons. The house will be under the personal management of B. F. Rothstein, lately associated with Harry Davis, the well-known theatrical and motion picture magnate. It will be devoted exclusively to high class motion pictures and feature films in which appear the leading actors and actresses of the world, depicting the great theatrical successes. At an approximate expense of $10,000 the management has installed on of the famous Wurlitzer Unit orchestras, which combines piano with all orchestral acompaniements, such as horns, flute, violin, drums, cello, castanets, tambourine, whistles, bells, chimes, xylophones and traps. The management, at considerable additional expense secured a well-known artist of Dallas, Texas, to preside over this wonderful instrument. Recitals will be given afternoon and evening, thus affording the music-loving public a rare treat. It is the only instrument of its kind in the entire state of Oklahoma and weighs in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds.
Reading through the puffery, it appears that this is a reopening after a remodel, rather than the opening of a new building.
What isn't clear is where this was. In 1910, the Bijou Theater sat at the corner of 4th and Main. In 1917 (according to Sanborn Maps), the new, new Majestic was built next door at 406 S. Main, and remained standing until demolished for the present occupant, a parking garage that takes up the north two-thirds of the block between Main, Boulder, 4th and 5th. Tulsa was small enough, and the business district was compact enough, that there was no need to clutter up a theater ad with an address.
First in a possible series. Newspapers and other publications from 1922 and earlier are in the public domain, and many of them are available online through the Library of Congress and Oklahoma Historical Society websites.
The April 17, 1914 edition of the Tulsa Daily World ran 12 pages. The front page headline was about the peaceful resolution of the Tampico Affair. Mexican President General Huerta offered to make amends for the arrest of American troops at Tampico. (The previous day's edition had a banner headline in red ink above the masthead announcing "War With Mexico Now Imminent / Bloodshed Likely at Track Today.")
Further down page 1, there was news of an arrest in the hatchet murder of Muskogee shopkeeper B. F. Richardson. The accused was Richardson's shop clerk, C. T. Hefler, who had been fired after an argument.
On the upper left of the women's page (p. 7) is the headline:
WORK FOR THE COMING SUMMER
IS BEING PLANNED RIGHT
EXPENSE IS NOT LARGE
Camp Away from the City's Heat
Would Do Much to Reduce Summer
The story was about a committee of Tulsa women pushing for the establishment of a "baby detention camp." No indication of where it would be located. The committee elected the following ladies as the board of directors.
Mesdames J. A. Hull, J. M. Gillette, S. E. Dunn, John Murray Ward, Frank Sowers, Edward R. Perry, Oscar R. Howard, Sim W. Parrish, J. E. Crosbie, Frank E. Shallenberger, O. L. Frost and Frank H. Greer.
A June 19, 1914, story reports that a home was purchased "opposite Orcutt park," accessible by the Oklahoma Union Traction streetcar line. The 1920 city directory shows the Tulsa Detention Home located at 1704 S. Trenton. Later, the 1939 Sanborn map shows a "County Children's Home" at 1710 S. Trenton at the corner with 17th Street. The homes currently on that corner are of much later construction.
An August 1, 1915, story distinguishes the new detention home ("near the old bungalow at Seventeenth and Spark Streets"), which seems to be an orphanage for children whose parents are deceased or unfit, from the baby camp. Both are run by the local Humane Society.
(In 1921, Wichita established a "Fresh Air Baby Camp" in its Riverside neighborhood. The building was later used as a Girl Scout hut, then sat empty for many years. At present, the building is being restored to its historical appearance. Fresh Air Baby Camp has a much nicer sound than Baby Detention Camp.)
IN OTHER NEWS:
The April 16 edition noted the paper's circulation on the previous day at 12,650.
Several ads in the paper boost the Tulsa Evening Sun, sister paper to the World, which began publication on December 1, 1913, and had a daily circulation of 4,000. "It has been proven that a morning paper with an evening edition is the solution of taking care of the 'overhead cost' in newspaper publishing."
Dr. Jeffrey Myers, a great-grandson of W. Tate Brady, posted a comment today on a BatesLine entry from July 2013 ("The Brady name game") regarding the renaming of Brady Street in Tulsa. Controversy over the early Tulsa civic leader's connection to racist organizations resulted in a bizarre City Council compromise that renamed Brady Street within the Inner Dispersal Loop to Matthew B. Brady Street, honoring the Civil War-era photographer who had no connection to Tulsa.
Below is Dr. Myers's comment, which is unedited, except for the addition of an authorship line to ensure it is properly attributed.
What´s in a Name: The Legacy of Tate Brady [by Dr. Jeffrey Myers]
As one of the great-grandchildren of W. Tate Brady, I was deeply saddened to learn of his affiliation - direct or indirect - with racist organizations. Although he died long before I was born, we great-grandchildren often heard of his deep affection for "Tulsey Town" and his coining of the term "Tulsa Spirit".
Personally, I have never thought of "Brady" Street simply as a personal tribute to one of Tulsa´s founders, but rather a reminder of one of the most eventful and "spirited" chapters in the history of the city - with all of its triumphs and tragedies, virtues and vices, successes and failures. To preserve a name - including both the achievements and the shortcomings it represents - serves to convey historical identity.
In some ways, Tate Brady can be said to have been a child of his times. He was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in a young city painfully divided along racial lines. He was a man filled with larger-than-life dreams, as well as inconsistencies. Having joined the Ku Klux Klan as a young man, he later renounced the group, going on to support an anti-Klan gubernatorial candidate for election.
If I am not mistaken, though, he is being judged for one substantiated act of cruelty which, despicable as it is, remains one single act. I am not aware of any evidence of his complicity in other crimes, nor is there convincing evidence linking him to an active role in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Fortunately, times have changed; needless to say, actions must always be understood and judged in the context of those times. Historical revisionism is sometimes tempting, but often self-serving.
It has been said that Wyatt Tate Brady was known for hiring African Americans to work in his hotel and other businesses. Not long before she died at the age of 104, Mabel B. Little, a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riot who was once employed by Brady, recalls in her book, Fire on Mount Zion: My Life and History as a Black Woman in America (1990): "Another man, Mr. Tate Brady had good feelings for black people. He hired several black boys as porters. But he told them up front, "Listen, boys: I'm gonna train you so you can get your own businesses someday."
I´ve always liked the fact that this historical street north of Main only bore a surname - and not a first name, thus pointing beyond itself, not only to the larger Brady family - many of whom loved and gave generously of themselves and their gifts to Tulsa, but also to the wider family, named and unnamed, of pioneer-spirited Tulsans. The name Brady invokes that which is unique to Tulsa - not only at its best, but also that which needs to be transformed and redeemed, individually and together.
In a moment of larger vision, W. Tate Brady was once quoted as saying: "Indian and white man, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant, we worked together side by side, and shoulder to shoulder, and under these conditions, the 'Tulsa Spirit' was born, and has lived, and God grant that it never dies." Though framed in words from another era, this vision would seem to capture the magnanimous, unifying "spirit" of Tulsa - the direction surely intended by the street sign bearing the name "Brady".
I've been told that Leon Russell's voice is being used to greet travelers at the Tulsa International Airport, and that, in his greeting, he mentions seeing world-renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz at the Tulsa Municipal Theater, now known as the Brady Theater.
Heifetz appeared in Tulsa, at what was then known as the Convention Hall, many years earlier, on March 16, 1922, as part of a blockbuster concert series that included ballerina Anna Pavlova and pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The performers for the rest of the series are not well-remembered today, but they were famous at the time: Frances Alda (operatic soprano), Royal Dadmun (baritone), John McCormack (Irish tenor), Flonzaley Quartet (string quartet).
At the time, $10 got you season tickets for the best seat in the house. In inflation-adjusted terms, that's $15 per show. Individual tickets ran from $1 to $3, plus 10% war tax.
A newspaper advertisement for the series appeared on page 12 of the September 25, 1921, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:
Don't know for sure, but I suspect that the Carson Concert Series was the forerunner for Carson Attractions, which handled tickets and booking for the Tulsa Assembly Center for many years.
1922 was not Heifetz's first visit to Tulsa. He also appeared at the Convention Hall on March 4, 1919. Ticket prices were 50 cents cheaper than they would be in 1922.
A remarkable and detailed 1921 map of Tulsa is available for viewing online, from the Special Collections of the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library. The inset map shows the entire city, and is captioned;
A Ready Reference and Guide Map to Tulsa's
OFFICE & PUBLIC BLDGS. CLUBS, R.R. PASSENGER &
FREIGHT DEPOTS, SCHOOLS, CHURCHES, PARKS &
CEMETERIES, PAVED & UNPAVED STREETS & NAMES,
STEAM, INTERURBAN & STREET RAILROADS,
FIRE PLUGS, CITY & FIRE LIMITS
Subdivisions are clearly labeled. Around the edges of the map are alphabetical listings of the categories mentioned above, plus banks, streets, hospitals, apartment buildings, and hotels. The street car and interurban lines are very easy to spot.
The outer part of the map depicts "Tulsa's industrial and commercial district : showing office and public bldgs. R.R. passenger & freight depots." It is more detailed, labeling individual buildings, and it covers a solid rectangle from Denver to Hartford, Easton to 5th St., plus extensions in to the west (to Frisco between Easton & 2nd), to the east (to 3rd & Madison and Admiral & Owasso), and to the south (to 12th and Main). Beyond these areas are residences and farmland.
Two publishers are listed on the map, the Dean-Brumfield Co. of Tulsa and the Standard Map Co. of Chicago.
Also in the collection is the Fowler & Kelly Aero View of Tulsa, 1918
The only disappointment about these two maps is that they appear to have been converted to JPEG format, which is great for photos of real life, but produces annoying blurs and other artifacts as a result of its lossy compression algorithm. PNG, a lossless compressed format, would have been a better choice.
UPDATE: Paul Uttinger provides a link to a better copy of the Aero View of Tulsa, 1918.
I. Marc Carlson, Librarian of Special Collections at the University of Tulsa, has several personal webpages containing his research on the Tulsa Race Riot and other historical topics. I just found out about this material earlier this evening and wanted to preserve the links for future exploration:
Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by I. Marc Carlson: WordPress site, principal location for collected documents and analysis.
Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 original website: Hand-coded website that still has some important material.
Public-domain photos of the Tulsa Race Riot, with descriptions and commentary
Carlson takes a "just the facts" approach to the material, placing the greatest weight on first-hand accounts recorded close to the time of the events and documents of the time, separating evidence from widely-circulated legends. You can read his statement of methodology here. Among his projects are a timeline of the Tulsa Race Riot and a list of the Tulsa Race Riot known dead and wounded, with the source of the information and, if known, the address for the victim as found in contemporary directories.
On Wednesday night, my wife and I went to Circle Cinema to see a double-feature: Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James (Locations: Looking for Rusty James") followed by Rumble Fish, the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film based on the novel by S. E. Hinton.
The first film at the Circle Cinema was about the second: Chilean author Alberto Fuguet saw Rumble Fish as a young man and was inspired by the idea that the ordinary stuff of life could be the source of art.
It is the film that incited me to write. The one that said: "You too can do it. If this story of two brothers can be art, then perhaps your world, your raw material, your square meter, can be of some use to you. Perhaps it can be representable."...
I left on foot. I lived close by. I arrived at my house that creaked. I remember that that night, in a short time, by hand, without a computer, I wrote my first story. Perhaps I should dedicate it to Dillon. To Spano. Perhaps I should have dedicated it to Coppola.
Some day, I don't know when, I should make a pilgrimage to Tulsa, I told myself.
A flop when released in the US as an ordinary summer movie, Rumble Fish became a long-running cult classic on the art-house circuit in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. The film was retitled La Ley de la Calle ("The Law of the Street") and presented in English with Spanish subtitles.
Asked to write an essay about a favorite film, Fuguet decided instead to create a documentary tribute. In Miami for an event, he bought a ticket to Tulsa hoping to find locations and to interview extras and local fans who would talk about what Rumble Fish meant to them. Instead, puzzled that the film seemed to mean so little to the people of the city where it was made, he went around on his own, filming locations. Instead of talking to locals, he went back to South America and interviewed authors and filmmakers who were inspired by the film. It was only later that he connected with Tulsans (in particular, Lee Roy Chapman) interested in the film who helped him gather additional footage for his documentary. Fuguet told his tale in This Land Press:
Things didn't turn out as I thought. My goal was to go to Tulsa, stay as long as necessary, talk with everyone, spend time with the extras, and succumb to a world I would have liked to be a part of. But Tulsa turned out to be not just a colorful city, where yes, the clouds pass but not too quickly. I was struck by something that left me lying flat on a bed in a Ramada Inn. Nobody talked to me. Not because they were fleeing from me or they rejected me. It's that Rumble Fish, the film anyway, was not a topic of conversation for them. It hadn't made an impact on the city. It was filmed there but in an informal way, not in the way its big sister, the immense and technicolored The Outsiders, was shot. It was very difficult for me to make a map of locations. There were no fans, no groupies, no cinephiles. I returned to Santiago with a lot of footage and an immense depression. I didn't have a documentary.
Fuguet's homage, Locaciones, is a collection of recent footage of Tulsa interspersed with clips from Rumble Fish shown on various screens, accompanied by the voices of the movie's admirers talking about when and where they first saw it and how it inspired them. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.
(Confession: I've never read the novel Rumble Fish and, until Wednesday night, had never seen the film.)
To Fuguet and his fellow fans, the Tulsa depicted in Rumble Fish is a "holy city." But the film shows a forgotten Tulsa that would have been very foreign to Tulsans who shopped at Woodland Hills Mall and never ventured north of 41st or west of Yale: Under the Boulder Ave. railroad bridge, a store front at 13 E. Brady Street, in the alley south of 5th Street between Main and Boston, the Sixth Street Subway, the 1400 block of S. Cincinnati, the 1000 block of N. Greenwood, 16th Street next to Marquette School, 3rd and Kenosha, the 23rd Street bridge. This was the Tulsa that Tulsa's leaders of the time were diligently working to update or eliminate -- dilapidated, obsolete, old-fashioned. Where they had already succeeded, when Tulsa couldn't provide the requisite flophouse apartment, mom-and-pop drugstore, and dive beer joint, Coppola took his crew to Sapulpa's better-preserved downtown to make up the deficiency.
The most spectacular scene in the film (from a Tulsa history perspective) is on Greenwood at Archer. The then-recently restored buildings were decked out in neon, awnings, and running lights, and hundreds of extras paraded up and down the block in a scene that was supposed to represent a street party on the wild side of town. While I don't think Greenwood was ever as sleazy as the scene in Rumble Fish, it was as lively, particularly in the '40s and '50s, and Coppola and his set designers do an amazing job of recapturing its lost vitality.
Coppola and Hinton wrote the screenplay on days off during the filming of The Outsiders, and Coppola began shooting Rumble Fish right after the earlier film wrapped. The movie starred Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Vincent Spano, and Dennis Hopper.
Rumble Fish contains frequent instances of what James Lileks calls "accidental documentary." I found myself wanting to pause every frame, searching blurry backgrounds and plate glass reflections and my own memories for clues that might help me pinpoint the exact location. I didn't follow the story as closely I might have; I was too busy looking at what Tulsa looked like in 1982-1983. (The clock with the flipping ads from Jenks Restaurant even made a prominent appearance.)
Earlier in the evening, I saw an exhibition of photos taken during the filming of Rumble Fish by Gaylord Herron, Joe Cervantez, and Western Doughty, who as a 15-year-old photographed a scene being filmed in his neighborhood, on the south side of Latimer Street between N. Cheyenne and N. Denver Ave. Cervantez had photos of Greenwood and Archer as it was dressed for the film -- tarted up to look like a strip of bars, arcades, news stands, pool halls. He also had a remarkable photo of the buildings on the west side of Greenwood, at the beginning of the restoration process of the handful of post-Riot buildings remaining after the rest had been destroyed in the late '60s by expressway construction and urban renewal. The building facades, propped up by metal poles, were all that remained.
(I'm pretty sure the police officer in the movie was the visual inspiration for Axe Cop. And Vincent Spano totally stole my late '70s - early '80s look.)
Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James is available for streaming on the website of Cinépata.
Rumble Fish is available online at viooz.co. I have no idea whether this site is licensed to show the movie, but it's there.
If you've seen Rumble Fish and are wondering what it's all about, here are a couple of reviews that seemed especially insightful. (Warning: reviews contain spoilers.)
This Perhapses review of Rumble Fish does a good job of connecting some seemingly unconnected details in the movie.
Tulsa is not like I imagined it. It is a seedy run-down city, like the Great Falls of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. There is plenty of space for rumbles in the freight yards, under bridges and down alleyways. Drugs are rife. Yet its isolated position on the plains is made clear. The outside world is all around. Roads are thick with dust, winds whip through the streets, and the hurtling, boiling clouds are continually above, reflected in the storefront windows.
He has some notes on the locations of Benny's Billiards, the fight by the train tracks, Rusty James's apartment, the drugstore, the bridge, and the pet store.
The Oklahoma Historical Society has been scanning and posting documents from their archives, and there is a page full of links to architectural and historical surveys of Oklahoma cities and towns. The surveys were mainly conducted over the past 20 years, often by teams of students led by an architectural historian. The intent of a survey is to identify buildings and districts that may be worthy of placement on the National Register of Historic Places, a status that can convey tax benefits and grant eligibility for restoration. A survey usually includes extensive descriptions of the historical context -- when a town developed, what caused it to grow -- and descriptions of individual buildings of interest, with their historical and architectural significance. Maps and photographs are often included.
Tulsa surveys include a 1991 "Reconnaissance Level Survey" of a dozen near-north Tulsa neighborhoods, and intensive-level surveys of downtown, Reservoir Hill, Owen Park, Riverside, Swan Lake, Yorktown, and White City neighborhoods. Bartlesville, Bristow, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Nowata, Claremore, Cushing, Okmulgee, Muskogee, and Tahlequah are among the northeast Oklahoma cities that were surveyed.
Tulsa history expert Paul Uttinger pointed me to a couple of amazing U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) aerial photos from 1967. It captures an interesting point in time, as land was beginning to be cleared for I-244 and the Inner Dispersal Loop. Tulsa had, about a year earlier, tripled its land area in a single annexation, but much of that area was still rural. Skelly Drive (I-44) had been finished a decade earlier, the Broken Arrow Expressway was open as far as 21st Street, and bits of other expressways were already under construction. I-244 was already complete to Sheridan, and you can see where overpasses and utility viaducts had been built prior to the roadway. In some images, sections of the Gilcrease Expressway and Sand Springs (Keystone) Expressway can be seen.
Street maps and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps generally capture only urbanized areas, but these high-resolution, high-altitude photos document the rural outskirts of Tulsa in high detail.
These images also show Tulsa before massive urban renewal. Greenwood is intact, except for demolition for I-244, mainly the buildings on the east side of Greenwood between Archer and Brady, including the Dreamland Theater. Downtown is also largely intact, except for the Civic Center (the 1969 City Hall was under construction), and the beginnings of the erosion of urban fabric for surface parking.
(UPDATE: These images are also available (along with older and newer imagery) via the USGS EarthExplorer website. You can specify a location and a time range and find imagery that includes your area of interest. These images are "Aerial Photo Single Frames" and are found under the "Aerial Imagery" category. Other data sets of interest are National High Altitude Photography (NHAP), Landsat MSS 1-5 (under Landsat Archive), GLS 1975 (under Global Land Survey). The USGS Global Visualization Viewer is another helpful tool for browsing historical aerial and satellite photographs. Here is a description of each of the image collections and data sources.)
Here is a link to the Tulsa Library collection of 1967 USGS aerial photos.
Below are direct links to each of the files that I've explored so far, with notes on interesting places found therein. These are very large PDF files.
I plan to post some "Where in Tulsa?" contests -- each one featuring a clip from one of these images, most likely a place greatly changed in the last 47 years.
Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 73rd East Ave to 121st East Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Tulsa Airport, Mingo School, Air National Guard base, American Airlines maintenance base, Air Force Plant No. 3, Tulsa Speedway
Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Darlington Ave to 101st East Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Tulsa Airport, Tulsa Zoo, Mohawk Park, Recreation Lake, Mingo School, Air National Guard base, American Airlines maintenance base, Air Force Plant No. 3
Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Memorial Dr to 129th East Ave, 11th St S to 29th Pl N, Mingo Valley, Gilcrease, and Crosstown interchanges (US 169, OK 11, I-244), Tulsa Airport, Air Force Plant No. 3, Western Village, 11th St Drive In Theater
Tulsa, east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 93rd East Ave to 121st East Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes Western Village, East Central High School, Bates Tourist Hotel, Skelly Drive / Mingo Valley interchange
Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson Ave to 109th East Ave, 55th St S to 23rd St S, includes Alsuma, Memorial Park Cemetery, Fulton neighborhood, Skelly Drive/Broken Arrow Expressway interchange, The Farm
Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Lewis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 65th St S to 97th St S, Oral Roberts University, Rentie Grove, Signal Hill, Hope Hill, Holland Hall future campus, Mill Creek Pond, Jenks bridge
Jane Dunlap Maxey posted this on the Facebook group "North Tulsa 50's 60's & 70's - The Real Outsiders." It's a menu from Shakey's Pizza, labeled summer 1967. I thought it deserved reposting in a more permanently accessible location.
Spicy - Supreme - Robust - Exotic
... From the giant 750° ovens in the window ...
Public House Special (pepperoni and chopped green pepper)
Smoked Oyster (with olive oil)
Shakey's Famous Italian Sausage (spicy Italian)
Italian Sausage & Black Olive
Lean Beef & Chopped Onions
Portugese Linguica (like Canadian bacon with garlic)
Imported Anchovies (from Lisbon) recommended only for anchovie lovers
White Mushrooms (cooked in butter)
Italian Black Olive
Idiot's Delight (pimento & green pepper)
Plain (tomato - spices & exotic cheeses)
Portland Supreme (salami & green pepper)
Right Hander's Special (Friday or Lent) shrimp, mushroom & olive
Eastern Polish Sausage
Shakey's Special (Combination without anchovie)
Big Ed Special (Combination without olive)Pizza to take home ... 10¢ extra
PIZZA IS ALWAYS EATEN WITH THE FINGERS
Shakey's Pizza is prepared with exotic blends of imported herbs, spices, and delicacies.
It was a highlight of going to Shakey's (or Shotgun Sam's) to get to look through the window at the pizza dough being tossed and the pies being slid into the ovens.
Some mysteries... perhaps you can solve them:
- What exotic cheeses were used in the plain pizza? And doesn't that undermine the notion of "plain"?
- What was it about the combination of pimento & green pepper that especially delighted idiots?
- If the Shakey's Special = ( Combination - Anchovies ) and Big Ed Special = ( Combination - Olive ), what else was in the Combination besides anchovies and olives?
- Why do they call a pizza compliant with Catholic dietary restrictions of the time (no meat on Fridays or in Lent) a Right-Hander's Special?
- Portland was a thing in 1967?
According to my copy of the 1966 Tulsa telephone book, Shakey's Pizza had two locations: 3647 S. Peoria (TEmple 5-1529) and 9124 E. Admiral (RIverside 7-1331).
Other advertisers in the "Pizza" section of the Yellow Pages that year:
Irish Mike Clancy's Pizza Village Inn, 1060-B S. Mingo Rd.
Johnny Reb's Pizza Parlor, 5651 W. Skelly Dr.
Ken's Pizza Parlor, 3024 E. 11th St, 1515 S. Sheridan
Lea's Italian Pizzeria, 1605 E. 15th St., 4207 S. Peoria, 3632 N. Peoria, 4631 E. 31st. St., 3945 E. Admiral Pl. (Midtown, Southside, Northside, Eastside, and Northeast, respectively)
The Pizza House, 6545 E. 11th St.
Pizza Hut, 5951 E. 31st St., 5303 E. 11th, 4201 S. Peoria
Pizza Inn, 7737 E. 21st St.
Sussy's Pizza, 2918 E. 11th St.
Tulsa Maiden Drive-In, 1204 S. Peoria
Tulsa Pizza Co., 912 W. Admiral
The Villa, 1546 S. Sheridan Rd.
Johnny Reb's ad invited the reader to
BRING THE FAMILY Old German Style Dark Beer 20 Varieties of Pizza Dine In or Pizza To Go Close To Motels
The Villa boasted "delicious Pizza Baked on Bricks" and "Black Beer." Ken's had "light and dark tap beer" and assured the reader that their pizza was "Made Fresh When Ordered." Pizza Inn offered "an environment for the whole family, light & dark beer, poor boy sandwiches, salads" for dine in or carry out.
MORE: Here's a montage of photos, ads and menus from Shakey's, set to banjo music. Unfortunately, Shakey's classic jingle -- "Shakey's is shakin' up... pizza, people!" -- has yet to make it to the internet.
Randy Brown has been posting Top 30 hit lists from his days at Tulsa's legendary rock station KAKC (he called himself Bob Scott on the air) on Tulsa Memories from the 60's and 70's Facebook group. The lists were based on surveys of sales at local record stores. He posted the KAKC Top 30 from September 8, 1971, and wrote:
I always sort of made it my mission in life to take over the design and publication of the weekly Big 30 list at every radio station I worked at. In 1971, I gave our Big 30 sheet a pretty dramatic redesign. And lookie!! There I am on the cover, handing over a check for cash to a lucky KAKC contest winner who knew the phrase that pays in our Pay Phone contest. Survey dated September 8, 1971.
Well, that date rang a bell. In September 1971, right after Labor Day, I started at Holland Hall as a 3rd grader, back when the lower and middle schools were at 2660 S. Birmingham Place.
That's also the week when I first heard KAKC. At our house we listened to KRMG-AM and -FM (now KWEN 95.5) -- middle-of-the-road and easy listening, respectively.
Mom taught in Catoosa and Dad worked downtown, and we lived in Rolling Hills, then unincorporated territory east of Tulsa and about 12 miles from school. So I was in a carpool. Dad would meet the carpool at the 11th & Garnett DX (SE corner, now Mazzio's).
Mr. Ivers, the elementary PE teacher, was the driver, and he was a KAKC listener.
He had a Volkswagen station wagon, and somehow he managed to squeeze five or six students in the car with him. There were a couple of sisters and a veterinarian's daughter who lived near the KVOO towers. On the way to school we picked up a Monte Cassino student (a girls' high school back then) who lived in the Rosewood neighborhood NW of 11th and Mingo. (The neighborhood was demolished after the 1984 Memorial Day flood.) Then we drove south on Memorial, stopping to pick up a girl who lived on the west side of the street, just south of a creek, about where 13th Street would have been if it had gone through. On south to 21st, then west to Lewis, south on Lewis to drop off the Monte Cassino student, then left on 27th Place and the south entrance to Holland Hall's Eight Acres campus.
Since we rode in a VW, we played a game like "Slug Bug" -- counting VWs along the way. The big prize went to the first one to call the big VW repair shop on the SW corner of 21st and Yale -- dozens of beetles, wagons, and microbuses.
KAKC was the soundtrack of my daily ride to school, new music en route to a new school in an unfamiliar part of town. My life the two previous years had centered around Admiral and 193rd East Ave. -- church, school, the Red Bud grocery store, Raley's Pharmacy, TG&Y, Lon's Laundry, In'n'Out convenience store. There was the occasional visit to a doctor's office or big shopping center in "Tulsa proper," but that involved crossing four or five miles of farmland. I was leaving behind the school where Mom taught and where my neighbors and Sunday School classmates went.
The music made an impression, and a song from that week's top 30 list has strong associations with those first rides to school: The banjo-infused "Sweet City Woman" by The Stampeders. Maybe I identified with the lyrics. "So long, Ma, so long, Pa, so long, neighbors and friends" -- if only for seven hours.
Here's a playlist I put together of all 30 songs, starting with #30 ("Imagine" -- sorry about that, but it is what it is) and ending with #1 ("The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down").
BatesLine photo, October 15, 2011, All Rights Reserved
For over a half-century, motorists driving north on Riverside Drive in Tulsa, after navigating the tricky Midland Valley underpass, were rewarded with the sight of an elegant white mansion across a vast expanse of manicured lawn.
Tomorrow, all that will end. The site with its lawn and woods was sold by owner Dan Buford to the George Kaiser Family Foundation to be used for its "Gathering Place for Tulsa." GKFF did not include the Blair Mansion in its plans for the new park, although it might have been home to a restaurant, galleries, meeting space -- any number of functions complementary to the park. A lodge is shown on the plans for the park not far from the current site of the mansion. Judging by the outraged reactions on social media, it seems everyone assumed that the Blair Mansion would be the centerpiece of this new public space.
Kylie Earls McFerrin wrote on Facebook: "This is ridiculous!!!! I love driving by there. It makes me feel like a small part of Tulsa is still intact." Monica Hughes called the property "iconic. It was reassuring to drive by it on visits up. Slowly the Tulsa of my memory is disappearing."
Buford had the right to have the mansion moved to another location, but that proved to be impractical. The house was too large, the neighborhood streets too narrow, the surrounding overpasses too low:
Buford said he spent more than a year looking into relocating the house and even hired a local company to study the logistics of such a move.
They spent about four months in that process and they finally came back to me with a written report," Buford said. "They wouldn't say that it couldn't be moved, but they didn't see how that it was worthy or feasible."
So tomorrow morning the Blair Mansion will be demolished.
Our family has had a couple of opportunities to visit, when our homeschooling group had activities in the woods south of the house, although I never had the chance to see the interior. The Blair Mansion was designed by John Duncan Forsyth and built in 1958. Oilman B. B. Blair had owned and farmed the property since 1939. According to reports, Dan Buford bought the property in 1995 after the death of Blair's widow.
Route 66 "planter" and "nature band-aid" attempt to distract from ugliness of Tulsa Community College surface parking lot.
This afternoon, Wednesday, September 18, 2013, the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission will consider a proposed change to the zoning code intended to discourage the demolition of downtown buildings for surface parking.
Here is a link to a PDF of the draft zoning code amendment regarding downtown Tulsa demolition.
The proposal is long-overdue, and the TMAPC should allow it to move forward to the City Council for consideration.
Looking southwest across the parking crater, from 10th and Detroit. Fancy Route 66 streetscaping doesn't make up for the desolation of block after empty block of surface parking.
Along with it should be the removal of financial and regulatory incentives for demolition and obstacles to adaptive reuse. The downtown assessment, which is a flat rate per square foot of building and land, allows a property owner to give himself an instant tax cut with a bulldozer. The owner of the old Page Dairy at 7th and Frankfort did just that in July 2009. Regulations requiring old apartment buildings to retrofit with state-of-the-art fire protection features are another burden on creative building reuse, increasing the likelihood of another demolition of what had been affordable downtown housing.
Page Glencliff Dairy (Fields Downs Randolph building) being demolished in 2009. Photo by Daniel Hickman.
Earlier this year, Tulsa won Streetsblog's national competition for worst "parking crater," the vast asphalt wasteland that stretches with few interruptions across the south end of downtown and reaches up along the east fringe. As hoped, the national attention has bolstered the effort to address the problem which began last July with a temporary moratorium.
Tulsa Community College, Boston Avenue Methodist Church, and First Methodist Church's contributions to Tulsa's parking crater. Near 10th and Detroit looking south.
And it is a problem. A downtown doesn't work the way a downtown should, it doesn't work as a lively urban district, if there are vast voids between clusters of buildings. Surface parking is an inhospitable environment for someone on foot. When you're walking down a street with parking on both sides, there's no place to go if the weather turns, no one around to help if there's an emergency, nothing to keep you interested.
Looking west across the parking crater from Cincinnati between 8th and 9th toward 1st Christian Church and Holy Family Cathedral. Tulsa Community College lot is in the foreground.
I remember a 1996 visit from a college friend. He and a colleague came from Massachusetts to Tulsa that July to man a booth at the American Council of the Blind annual convention. Because they were staying downtown at the Doubletree, they didn't bother to rent a car. What a mistake! The first night in town they set off east on 7th Street in search of dinner, thinking that surely they'd find something downtown. Instead, they found a whole lot of nothing -- empty lots and closed office buildings. The view wouldn't be much different today.
What life we have downtown, we owe to building owners like David Sharp who chose to buy and hold on to modest, usually unremarkable older buildings in the Blue Dome and Bob Wills Districts as one building after another were taken for parking.
Why do old buildings matter? Here's an explanation from my June 7, 2006, column on the legacy of urban journalist Jane Jacobs:
[Jacobs wrote]: "Cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them. By old buildings I mean not museum-piece old buildings... but also a good lot of plain, ordinary, low-value old buildings, including some rundown old buildings."
Think about the most lively and interesting places in Tulsa, the kind of places you'd take a visitor for a night on the town: Brookside, the Blue Dome District, Brady Village, Cherry Street, 18th and Boston. Each of those districts had an abundance of old buildings, buildings that are for the most part unremarkable. But those buildings provided an inexpensive place for someone with a dream to start a new business.
You might have seen the same kind of vitality develop in the south part of downtown, with business springing up to serve the tens of thousands who attend classes at TCC's Metro Campus or participate in activities at the downtown churches, but so many of the buildings have been taken for parking by the churches and by TCC that a prospective business owner would be hard-pressed to find a location.
"As for really new ideas of any kind - no matter how ultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove to be - there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error and experimentation in the high-overhead economy of new construction. Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings."
Nearly all of downtown is under a special zoning classification (Central Business District, CBD) which, unlike every other part of the city, has no minimum parking requirements for businesses. But the other factors have encouraged demolition for parking: The costs of bringing an old building up to code, demand for office parking during downtown's late '70s, early '80s boom (roughly 70,000 downtown employees), Tulsa Community College's land-banking (buy a building, level it for student parking), reserve it for future development), and Sunday morning demand driven by our unusually healthy downtown churches.
Way back in 1998, the first time I ran for City Council, I proposed a demolition moratorium and a downtown parking summit. Since offices, churches, and TCC all generated parking demand at different times, it seemed like it should be possible to accommodate everyone's needs without dismantling more of what little remains of our urban fabric.
As bad as downtown already was, it was getting worse. Around that time, the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa demolished the Tulsa Apartments at 9th and Main (a pair of four-story brick buildings from the 1920s) and the old Cathey's Furniture showroom along the west side of Main between 8th and 9th. A diocesan spokesman told me at the time that the intention was to build a new chancery building and a grand plaza with the cathedral as backdrop. Instead, they simply tore down the buildings, paved the lot, and striped it for parking, as it remains today.
Site of Tulsa Apartments and Cathey's Furniture, 9th and Main, demolished in 1998 by the Catholic Diocese of Tulsa; now surface parking
When downtown leaders began the process of reopening the Main Mall to vehicular traffic, I urged that the city get commitments from adjoining property owners not to demolish their buildings for parking. If the point of reopening the mall was to allow businesses along Main to flourish, tearing down the few remaining buildings would defeat the purpose. Not long after, Arvest Bank demolished three older two-story buildings on the west side of Main north of 6th Street. A few years later, the Tulsa World demolished the old Froug's Department Store on the southwest corner of 3rd and Main for an air conditioning plant, and then Kanbar Properties tore down two single-story retail buildings just north of 5th on the east side of Main.
Tulsa Deco District sign decorates Arvest Bank parking lot. The three early 20th century Plains Commercial buildings on this site were pulled down by Arvest in the early 2000s.
Site of the Lerner Shops building (once the first home to KGCT-TV 41) and another building that were purchased and then demolished by Kanbar Properties.
In 2006, vocal downtown office building owners, who seemed to see downtown as nothing more than an office park, blocked a set of modest downtown preservation measures called the CORE recommendations from even moving out of the recommendation stage. Susan Neal, an advisor to then-Mayor Kathy Taylor on development issues, played a significant role in obstructing progress on the issue, presumably with the knowledge and approval of her boss.
The recommendations were modest and appropriate, but it took five years before they began to become a reality:
- Review all downtown buildings.
- Be proactive in meeting parking demand with structured parking, and discourage surface parking.
- Make downtown preservation a key component of Tulsa's new comprehensive plan.
- Create and promote incentives for redevelopment.
- Create a demolition review panel, to be designated by the Preservation Commission, that could halt demolition of a significant building for up to four months.
Plenty of our peer cities in the region, large and small, have put limits on demolition in the interest of historic preservation. Some have managed to combine historic preservation and parking. In Abilene, Texas, we noticed a number of hundred-year-old one-story buildings that had been opened up for parking. The structure is intact, ready for restoration to a more lucrative use.
That's been done in Tulsa, too, although it's not as visible. For many years the bottom floor of the old Renberg's building on Main has been used as parking, with access from the alley east of Main. When the Snyder family began to restore the Mayo Hotel, their first step was to convert the basement for parking, generating revenue that was later used to turn the first two floors into a space that could be rented for wedding receptions and other special events.
I urge the TMAPC to allow the proposal to move forward to the City Council. I urge the Tulsa City Council to approve limits on downtown demolition and to provide relief from regulatory and financial burdens that create incentives for demolition rather than reuse.
You can attend and speak at the TMAPC hearing, which begins at 1:30 pm today in the Tulsa City Council chambers on the 2nd (ground) floor of City Hall. Enter at 2nd and Cincinnati. The item is fairly early in the agenda, after a series of lot splits (usually routinely approved) and some "housekeeping" amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. (Most of those "housekeeping" amendments involve fixing errors in Comprehensive Plan designations, a couple involve patching the plan to reflect zoning decisions made out of accord with the plan, but one would involve commercial intrusion into a neighborhood on the west side of 2nd and Memorial. There's also a proposal to include more legible, large-format maps as part of the printed version of the Comprehensive Plan.)
You can also register your opinions on the City of Tulsa Planning Department's FeedBack site, which has a page devoted to the proposed downtown demolition ordinance. This is treated as official feedback, and you are required, as you would be at a public hearing, to register with your real name and address. (Your address is kept confidential, but you will be identified on the site by name and council district.)
Tulsa's progress through the Streetsblog "Parking Madness" competition for America's worst parking crater:
Sweet 16: Tulsa vs. Philadelphia: Tulsa won 95% to 5%. (Philadelphia crater had actually been redeveloped by the time of the contest.)
Elite Eight: Tulsa vs. Cleveland: Tulsa won 77% to 23%.
Final Four: Tulsa vs. Houston: Tulsa won 60% to 40%.
Championship: Tulsa vs. Milwaukee: Tulsa won 82% to 18%.
Streetsblog's report on how Denver repaired its parking crater:
In the 1990s, in response to the creeping cancer of surface parking, the Mile High City took action. The city changed its downtown zoning to eliminate surface parking as a use by right. So if you owned a building, you were welcome to tear it down, but you couldn't park cars on the lot. All existing parking lots were grandfathered in.
A relevant quote from a renowned urban planner:
"Actually, there is a point at which a city can satisfy its parking needs. This situation can be found in many small, older American cities and is almost always the result of the same history: at mid-century, with automobile ownership on the rise, a charming old downtown with a wonderful pedestrian realm finds itself in need of more parking spaces. It tears down a few historic buildings and replaces them with surface parking lots, making the downtown both easier to park in and less pleasant to walk through. As more people drive, it tears down a few more buildings, with the same result. Eventually, what remains of the old downtown becomes unpleasant enough to undermine the desire to visit, and the demand for parking is easily satisfied by the supply. This phenomenon could be called the Pensacola Parking Syndrome, in honor of one of its victims."-- Andres Duany, Suburban Nation, p. 162 [footnote]
FINAL UPDATE! Council votes 7-to-Patrick to change the name within the IDL to M. B. Brady Street in honor of the Civil War era photographer, thus preserving the street name while clarifying that we don't wish to honor W. Tate Brady. Not sure if I should applaud the finesse of this move or hoot derision at a too-clever-by-half decision that is likely to make no one happy. Maybe the most eloquent reaction is a comment by JR Seifried on KRMG's story: "lolwut"
UPDATED AND BUMPED 2013/08/15: Yesterday, Councilor Phil Lakin, who was missing from last week's debate and tie vote and won't tell how he would have voted had he been there, announced that tonight's up-or-down vote may not happen:
"Together, we are reorienting ourselves -- and our votes -- toward a constructive solution rather than simply engaging in an up-and-down vote on changing the name of Brady to Burlington," Lakin said in a prepared statement.
I humbly suggest that, notwithstanding the tongue-in-cheek aspects of what follows below, the core idea is a constructive solution: Appoint a commission to look at the history behind all of Tulsa's names, decide on criteria that make a name unacceptable, propose substitutes for unacceptable names (preserving, I hope, Tulsa's orderly street-naming and numbering system), and propose a means for covering the cost of renaming. The public would adopt or reject the renaming and its attendant costs by an up-or-down vote.
Originally published on August 12, 2013.
The problem with the proposal to eradicate the name Brady from Tulsa's map is that it doesn't go far enough. Tate Brady was a founder of the City of Tulsa and a booster of its early growth, but he was also involved in some evil and despicable acts and organizations.
On Thursday, the City Council will vote again on whether to rename a street that honors a Klansman to honor instead a family that grew wealthy on the human misery of the slave trade.
The renaming of Brady Street and Brady Place to Burlington Street and Burlington Place respectively would be one of several Tulsa street renamings in recent years. These are true renamings, not mere double-signing. (An example of double-signing: 41st Street between Peoria and Riverside is called "Nancy Apgar Avenue" to honor the late Brookside Neighborhood Association leader, but 41st Street remains the address of homes and businesses along that stretch of road.)
In 1997, Tulsa renamed the former Osage Expressway to honor the late Baptist pastor and civil rights leader L. L. Tisdale. The former Crosstown Expressway, which bears I-244 and US 412 from the Inner Dispersal Loop to the eastern city limits, was renamed the Martin Luther King Junior Memorial Expressway in 1984 at the direction of then-Gov. George Nigh. A segment of Haskell Street was renamed John Hope Franklin Boulevard in honor of the historian. Last year, N. Cincinnati Avenue from Archer Street to the northern city limits was renamed Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard -- an idea that had been brewing since the late 1980s.
But Tate Brady was hardly alone in his evil deeds and attitudes. His case has attracted the most attention because of Lee Roy Chapman's research in This Land Press, but there are others who are honored in the name of a street, a school, a library, or a theater who contributed to some atrocity of the past or held attitudes that we now consider repugnant.
Overlook for the moment any positive contributions to the community, and let's look at the worst that can be said about many of the people whose names are reflected in city streets and city-owned property.
For example, the city's Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport honors the late Tulsa Tribune executive and long-time airport authority member. But he was named to honor Richard Lloyd Jones Sr., his father and predecessor at the Tribune who is believed to have published an inflammatory editorial that sparked the 1921 attack on Tulsa's African-American community.
Not to ignore another former Tulsa newspaper family, Eugene Lorton was publisher of the Tulsa World in November 1917 when its editorial page called for the lynching of members of the International Workers of the World. A day later, a group called the Knights of Liberty kidnapped and tortured 17 members of the I. W. W.; Tate Brady was named as a ringleader in what became known as the "Tulsa Outrage."
Tate Brady chaired the committee for the 1918 reunion of the United Confederate Veterans, but many of the other names on the committee are honored with Tulsa parks and streets. S. R. Lewis is the namesake of Lewis Avenue. Charles Page has a boulevard. The names Owen, Howard, and Turner can be found on city parks. Eugene Lorton's name is on this list, as are famous Tulsa oilmen McBirney and McFarlin. C. N. Haskell, Oklahoma's first governor, is on the list, too -- he signed the state's Jim Crow laws and is the namesake of Haskell St.
That's just early-day Tulsa. We haven't touched the places named to honor the architects of the second destruction of the Greenwood district via urban renewal and the Model Cities program in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mayors, commissioners, city attorneys, members of committees -- all should be investigated for culpability in demolishing what Tulsa's African-American community painstakingly rebuilt after the 1921 riot.
Greenwood itself is named after Greenwood, Mississippi, which is named for Choctaw chief Greenwood LeFlore, who owned slaves, betrayed his own people by signing the treaty for the tribe's removal to Oklahoma, and urged the Five Tribes to support the Confederacy.
We could rename Greenwood to Garrison, to match the name the sixth block east of Main has in far-north Tulsa, but Garrison got its name for racist reasons. The blue-collar white people to whom Tulsa's far-north subdivisions were first marketed wouldn't have wanted to live on a street whose name was associated with Tulsa's African-American community.
We can't do anything about George Kaiser Family Foundation naming its private property after Woody Guthrie, who was a vocal advocate for a murderous ideology responsible for the deaths of tens of millions and the enslavement of billions in Russia, China, Cuba, southeast Asia, and around the globe. But Tulsa could dis-honor the old Red by giving Guthrie Avenue a different name.
One block further west, Sam Houston was involved in the theft of Texas from Latino rule to Anglo rule. Indian and Jackson Avenues are, ironically, next to each other. President Andrew Jackson, the founder of the modern Democrat Party, was a racist demagogue responsible for the deaths of thousands of Native Americans on the Trail of Tears.
Waco Avenue may have had a neutral meaning when it was named, but nowadays it's associated with the burning of the Branch Davidian compound, which inspired the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, according to the perpetrator of that atrocity.
Rather than handle these renamings piecemeal, with the potential of a new renaming (and a four-hour long public hearing) at every week's City Council meeting, the City Council should appoint a diverse commission of historically minded citizens to research the histories of all names under the control of the City of Tulsa and its boards and commissions.
This commission -- perhaps to be called the Commission for the Sanitation of Politically Incorrect Names (C-SPIN) -- would report back with a comprehensive recommendation to rename certain streets, an estimate of the cost to rename, and a revenue proposal (sales tax or general obligation bond issue) for funding the recommended renamings, including city expenses like street signage and grants to affected businesses and residents to cover signage, business cards, letterhead, and other street renaming expenses.
The commission would have to consider whether a person's misdeeds rises to the level of deserving the removal of his or her name from a public place. They might wish to set criteria that would be applied consistently to decide thumbs up or down. Not everyone will agree with my worst-case assessments
Just like the Federal Base Re-Alignment and Closure Commission (BRAC), the recommendation could not be amended, but would be submitted to City of Tulsa voters for an up-or-down vote on the renaming and the tax to fund it.
One-by-one renaming will be inefficient and unquestionably inconsistent. A comprehensive review of all names at once will allow the mayor and council to focus on other crises, will tend toward a consistent application of criteria, and will put the matter to rest for, we hope, many years. I hope the City Council will consider this possibility on Thursday.
Legendary guitarist and songwriter J. J. Cale died Friday, July 26, 2013, of a heart attack. He was 74. Cale wrote a number of hit songs, including "After Midnight" and "Cocaine."
Cale was born in Oklahoma City, but grew up in Tulsa, graduating from Tulsa's Central High School in 1956. Cale was a leader of a wave of talented Tulsa musicians that brought a distinctive bluesy sound to rock music in the '60s and '70s. The Tulsa Sound has been described as a "mix of Rockabilly, Country, Rock 'n' Roll, and Blues sounds of the late 1950s and early 1960s," and it influenced Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler among others.
Here's a documentary about J. J. Cale, "To Tulsa and Back," filmed in 2004 and released in 2006, in which he revisits and reminisces about places from his childhood and young adulthood. The film is full of historic photos and film of Tulsa in the 1950s. Eric Clapton talks at length about Cale and the group of Tulsa musicians that shaped his solo sound. Rocky Frisco, Bill Raffensperger, and Jim Karstein are among the Tulsa musicians who worked with Cale as early as 1957 who share their memories.
The debate over purging the name Brady from Tulsa streets and landmarks has made international news.
Tulsa City Council researcher Jack Blair discovered a December 24, 1907, street-naming ordinance that shows that Archer, Brady, and Haskell streets had different names in the initial draft -- Archer was Atchison, Brady was Burlington. The name crossed out in favor of Haskell is illegible -- an eight-character name presumably beginning with "H". (UPDATE: Paul Uttinger has learned from contemporary newspaper accounts of the debate that the originally proposed "H" street was "Hiawatha." Paul also notes that many of the cities in the list of proposed street names were in northeastern Kansas or northwestern Missouri; Alderman James W. Woodford was from Burlington in northeastern Kansas. See his comment below.)
Jeff Archer was an early Tulsa merchant. Archer was killed in 1894 by an explosion caused by a drunk shooting into a barrel of gunpowder in his store. W. Tate Brady was an incorporator of the City of Tulsa. Charles N. Haskell was the first governor of Oklahoma.
In the 1907 Sanborn Fire Map of Tulsa, there is an Archer Ave. and a Brady Ave., but not at their current locations. Archer Ave. was between Cheyenne and Osage (one block west of Denver Ave.) -- present day Edison St. Brady Ave. was present day Golden St. between Denver and Osage. The street runs to the north of the Brady Mansion. In between (what is now Fairview St.) was Mowbray Ave., named to honor the Rev. George W. Mowbray, Methodist pastor, Mayor of Tulsa, and father-in-law to Jeff Archer.
My theory is that, when the city decided in 1907 to rename the original Archer and Brady streets to create alphabetical order and consistency, friends of the Archer and Brady families pushed to have those names re-used for the "A" and "B" streets north of the tracks. (I'm not sure why Rev. Mowbray was left out.) Someone should check newspaper microfilm from December 1907 to see if there are any accounts of the decision-making process and any controversy surrounding it.
There are a few distinctions that need to be made.
The Brady Theater was built 1912-1914 as the city's Convention Hall. Later it became known as the Tulsa Municipal Theater. It was the place for ballet and symphony performances prior to the Performing Arts Center. When Peter Mayo bought it from the city at auction in 1978, he dubbed it the "Old Lady on Brady" because of its age and its location on Brady Street. Late '80s and early '90s news stories refer to it by the "Old Lady" name. By the mid-'90s, it had been rebranded as the Brady Theater. The theater's connection with Tate Brady is secondary -- the theater was named after the street, which was named after Tate Brady.
Sometime in the late 1980s, as warehouse districts became popular for arts and entertainment redevelopment, the idea of "Brady Village" as an arts district began to catch on. It was formally adopted in the city's 1989 Downtown Master Plan. Mayfest was held in Brady Village in 1991 and 1992. (I remember seeing Asleep at the Wheel in 1992 on an open-air stage in a parking lot where the Fairfield Inn now is, and later that evening at Cain's Ballroom. A co-worker and a couple of friends were leasing the Continental Supply Company building and had converted it into a loft.)
In July 1992, Spaghetti Warehouse opened. In December 1993, Mexicali Border Cafe opened. The connection of the district to Tate Brady is tertiary: The district was named after the theater, which was named after the street, which was named after Tate Brady. My guess is that Brady was chosen as the district's name because it evoked turn-of-the-century railroads and industry. I suspect that the organizers were thinking more about Diamond Jim Brady than Tate Brady.
Brady Heights is the name of a subdivision that was platted along N. Denver Avenue, on a hill overlooking downtown. The subdivision gave its name to the historic preservation district established in the 1990s; the HP district incorporates parts of adjacent subdivisions.
The Brady Mansion, which is in the Brady Heights historic district, is so called because Tate Brady built it and lived there.
The city has control over the name of Brady Street, and the City Council (with mayoral approval) could decide to rename it. Brady Street isn't just downtown, but it extends to the east and west limits of the city and even beyond. A Catoosa subdivision just north of I-44 and east of Lynn Lane Rd used Tulsa street names, since it was developed in the 1960s when the area was unincorporated. Changing a street name has far-reaching impact. It affects every homeowner and business owner
The city also could choose to rename the TIF district that encompasses the arts district or the name of the Brady Heights historic preservation district. These names are matters of city ordinance, but because the names of these entities are derived from pre-existing places, changing the name would create a geographical disconnect.
All the other Brady names are under private control. The owner could choose to change the name of the Brady Theater. The Brady Heights Neighborhood Association could rename itself, as could the Brady Arts District Business Association.
All these places could be renamed, but should they?
Until the campaign to rename Brady Street began, I doubt many Tulsans knew the significance of the name, any more than they knew what Xanthus or Xyler meant. One could argue that the street name has transcended its connection to its namesake. Most Tulsa street names were chosen arbitrarily to fit into an alphabetical scheme, and I imagine most Tulsans, if they thought about it at all, assumed the name Brady was equally arbitrary.
If they do rename it, I hope at least they use a name beginning with a B. The city has already violated alphabetical order twice in recent years, renaming part of Haskell Street to John Hope Franklin Blvd. and renaming half of Cincinnati Avenue as Martin Luther King Junior Blvd.
I would like to see the name of the arts district changed, and I like Lee Roy Chapman's suggestion of calling it the Bob Wills District, as it acknowledges a musician of worldwide renown who made his fame in the district, at Cain's Ballroom, and it fits nicely with the area's reputation as a home for live music. The name "Bob Wills District" on a map would be a magnet for worldwide fans of the man's music who want to connect with his legacy.
As a brand name for the area, the name Bob Wills has positive associations reaching far beyond Tulsa that would add to the good feelings Tulsans have about the neighborhood north of the tracks as a place to have fun. The name Brady has been associated in the minds of Tulsans with restaurants and bars and live music for over 20 years, but those positive associations are now tainted by what we've learned recently about Tate Brady.
I doubt that the Brady name means much to people outside of Tulsa. Even if you disregard Brady's membership in the Klan and involvement in the race riot, which historical figure would you associate with fun: A dour civic leader who committed suicide, or this guy?
Call it the Bob Wills District, and you've got a built-in slogan: "Stay all night, stay a little longer."
Lee Roy Chapman's 2011 story about Tate Brady is a reminder that many other prominent Tulsans of that era, whose names adorn streets and parks and buildings all over town, were as culpable as Brady. If we start by purging Brady's name, we cannot stop there. Names like Lorton and Jones and Lewis will have to go, too. Cyrus Avery, the father of Route 66, whom we've just honored with a plaza and a sculpture, was involved with real estate in Greenwood. If we dug deeply into his record, would we feel the need to erase his name from the map? And shouldn't our purge include the civic leaders who pushed for Greenwood's second destruction in the 1960s and 1970s? That probably means removing the names of the mayors of that era (Hewgley, LaFortune) and other officials (like City Attorney Charles Norman) from buildings and places.
In 2011, Fox 23 interviewed Tulsa Race Riot survivor Wess Young, who lives in Brady Heights:
He doesn't want the neighborhood's name to change. "That's history, why would you try and change what has gone one and not show what progress you have made," he told FOX23. He says he doesn't live in Tate Brady's neighborhood, he lives in his neighborhood. No matter what name it has. "It doesn't bother me because I have the privilege to live where I can afford."
My thinking -- keep Brady Street and Brady Heights as a humbling reminder that men like Brady were a part of Tulsa's past, but pick a better name to market the area north of the tracks downtown. I like Lee Roy Chapman's suggestion: Call it the Bob Wills District.
It is an exciting thing to see Greenwood alive as it was in its heyday.
The Solomon Sir Jones collection of films, discovered about seven years ago by Oklahoma historian Currie Ballard, is available for viewing on the website of Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In 2006, Ballard was concerned about finding a home for these rare and precious films documenting the resilience and industry of African-Americans in Oklahoma. Within three years, the films were available through Global Image Works. Now Yale is making them available for viewing and download.
Dr. S. S. Jones was a Baptist pastor in Okmulgee, a denominational leader, and a businessman. This collection consists of about six hours worth of film, in 29 reels, of African-Americans in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s. Jones had a good 16 mm camera and a kit for making titles using white letters on a black background; nearly every segment has an identifying title.
Jones would occasionally insert other films or shots of photographs. Film 18 begins with a short, stock clip of Pacific coast fishermen. That was followed by a procession of 71 white-robed baptismal candidates and hundreds of other church goers entering First Church in Okmulgee. I could imagine Jones showing this silent film to a group and narrating something about being fishers of men.
Starting about 5 minutes in, there are extended clips of Tulsa's Greenwood District: The S. D. Hooker Dry Goods company at 123 N. Greenwood; smartly-dressed members of the Tulsa Business League; photos of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, destroyed just two months after it was dedicated, and then film of the church as it was at the time -- just the basement that survived the riot; the C. B. Bottling Works at 528 E. Archer (SW of Archer and Greenwood); street scenes on Greenwood, including a funeral procession of cars; students at the noon hour at Booker T. Washington High School and on the playground and in the agricultural gardens at Dunbar Elementary School.
On film 28 there is about three minutes footage of C. C. Pyle's Bunion Derby, including close-ups of winner Andy Payne and many of the other runners.
Of course, this isn't just about Tulsa. Okmulgee, Muskogee, Taft, Boley, Okay, Langston, Porter, Coweta, Hugo, Bristow, Wetumka are among the other Oklahoma cities and towns featured in these movies.
This is really exciting stuff.
About four years ago, Lee Roy Chapman set out on a quest to find Bob Wills's 1948 Flxible Clipper tour bus. He found Bob's bus, and a companion -- the bus of Wills's good friend, western swing bandleader Hoyle Nix -- rusting in a field near Big Spring, Texas, Nix's home base. Chapman reached a deal with the owner to hold the option on the bus until he could raise the money to pay the asking price and bring the bus back to Tulsa. The hope was to exhibit it here, near Cain's Ballroom, the house that Bob built, and take it on tour as well.
It seemed like an impossible dream at the time.
On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Bob's bus came home, thanks to the help of Loren Frederick. Here's a photo from his Facebook page of the bus entering Tulsa County at the Turner Turnpike terminus.
I hope to have more of the story soon, but in the meantime western swing fans can look forward to the day when we can once again "Ride with Bob."
MORE: Lee Roy Chapman also put forward the idea that the arts district north of the Frisco tracks in downtown Tulsa should be marketed as the Bob Wills District, rather than the Brady Arts District, named (indirectly, by way of Brady Street and the Brady Theater) for Tulsa founder, segregationist, Democratic National Committeeman, and Klansman (but I repeat myself) Tate Brady. Read his This Land Press investigative report on Tate Brady's role in vigilantism, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and its aftermath.
This looks interesting. Tonight, Sunday, May 26, 2013, at 5 p.m. at the Church of the Restoration, 1314 N. Greenwood Ave., there will be an event sponsored by the Tulsa African Ancestral Society, entitled "Black Wall Street: The Ninth Wonder." The poster shows four photos of the Williams Dreamland Theater: Before the 1921 Tulsa race riot, the gutted theater in the aftermath of the riot, the new theater under construction, and the new theater open for business. The photos and the caption -- "Rebuilt Black Wall Street, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Reopened and Ready for Business" -- suggest that the event will be about the post-riot resurrection of Tulsa's African-American neighborhood. I've written about the rebuilding of Tulsa's Greenwood District and its ultimate dismantling by expressway construction of urban renewal; perhaps this event will have the same theme.
This Land Press has posted photos of every page of the Booker T. Washington High School Yearbook from 1921, the year of the race riot that destroyed the community which Washington High served.
Faculty: Nine men, six women, and all appear to be African-American.
Domestic Science and Art
Medieval and Modern History
"All classes are required to take part in some form of Athletics."
There are reports of extensive fire damage to the Rolling Hills Shopping Center, on Admiral Pl west of 193rd East Ave in far east Tulsa.
Assistant Fire Marshal Rick Bruder told reporters that a discount store and a pizza restaurant were likely destroyed as the fire caused their roofs to collapse. Also damaged is a clothing store, an insurance agency and an auto parts store.
It's telling that none of the news reports name the center. There once was an impressive sign at the Admiral Place entrance, but it's been long gone.
When my family moved to Rolling Hills in 1969, the Rolling Hills Shopping Center was the only such place for miles around. (The next nearest shopping center was Wagon Wheel at Admiral and Garnett.) County Assessor records say that it was built in 1968. Here's the lineup, from east to west, as I remember it:
OTASCO (not there in 1969, but built on in the 1970s)
Red Bud Supermarket
Mini-Mall (with barber shop)
T. G. & Y.
Lon's Laundry (around the corner, facing west)
And then the freestanding buildings:
Tastee Freeze (built in 1965, northwest corner)
Roll-In Lounge (east side, facing 193rd)
Phillips 66 (corner of Admiral and 193rd)
There was an MFA insurance agent in there somewhere, too. Roll-In Lounge was a beer joint (B. Y. O. L.). The mini-mall had a space where my sister took tap and ballet lessons. In high school, she worked for Raley's.
Before we had our own washer and dryer, we'd take our laundry to Lon's. The fellow who ran it (Lon, I suppose) was white-headed, tall, and skinny, and he whistled tunes that I didn't recognize. It was hot and steamy, especially in the summer, and there was the smell of soap powder and the taste of a cold bottle of Grapette from the Pepsi machine. I don't recall that it was air conditioned. I can remember sitting in Lon's in a shell-backed metal lawn chair, with a notebook, a 4-color pen, and a road atlas, plotting out an upcoming family vacation, while we waited on the next load to finish.
The T. G. & Y. -- 5¢ to $1.00 -- was where you went for school supplies, fabric, and simple toys. They lasted until not long after Wal-Mart built their first Tulsa store (assessor records say 1972, but that seems too early to me), about 40,000 square feet, less than half the size of a SuperCenter. I recall T. G. & Y. posting defiant "we will not be undersold!" signs. The Wal-Mart building is now some sort of light industrial business. The T. G. & Y. space became a C. R> Anthony store and then (much later) Dollar General.
When OTASCO closed, Red Bud took over the space. At some point, they became Marvin's. Old-timers will remember a stand near the entrance that sold Hillbilly Barbecue sandwiches.
Although the center has been in the City of Tulsa's limits since 1966, it's always been associated with Catoosa, as most of its patrons were in the town of Catoosa or its school district. Rolling Hills east of 193rd was unincorporated back then, but in the Catoosa school district.
It's been sad to see the decline of the center, but it has followed the same downward path as similar centers built in the same era. The presence of the Hard Rock Casino seems to have drawn all the new development to the Catoosa side of I-44 (which is the Tulsa/Catoosa and Tulsa County / Rogers County boundary).
When I was in kindergarten (1969-1970) in Mrs. Chambers's class at Catoosa Elementary School , we took a field trip to a place just up on US 66 called Nature's Acres. Mr. Hugh Davis, the owner, showed us alligators in a pond and an actual snake pit. Our assistant principal and P. E. teacher, Mr. Hough, got to pick up one of the venomous snakes because he knew how. (We all knew Mr. Hough was a tough guy. Conventional wisdom held that Mr. Hough had an electric paddle with holes to make it swing faster and hit harder.) Then we went into an ark (the Animal Reptile Kingdom) that housed a nature museum, where we had a snack (probably milk and cookies). The ARK was on dry land, but there was an unremarkable pond nearby.
A few years later that unremarkable pond was a public swimming hole, surrounded by a sandy beach, a restroom building that looked like a tropical grass hut, and whimsical picnic tables, and in the middle of it all, a big Blue Whale. You could walk in his mouth, slide down his fins, or jump off his tail into the water. Catoosa had no city pool; the Blue Whale was the place to cool off on hot summer days.
2012 is the Blue Whale's 40th birthday, and the community is throwing a 40th Birthday Bash, open to the public, this Friday night, September 7, 2012, from 6 pm to 9 pm. Cake and ice cream and blue punch will be served, and there will be a DJ and dancing. It should be a great celebration for Route 66 roadies and old-time Catoosans alike.
The night before, Thursday, September 6, 2012, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Blue will welcome the annual Blue Tie Affair, a fundraising banquet hosted by the Catoosa Arts and Tourism Society and catered by another Route 66 Catoosa icon, Molly's Landing. For a $50 donation, you get a steak dinner -- a Molly's Landing filet cooked on site with all the fixings. Dessert is Molly's famous bread pudding with Jack Daniels sauce. The Danny Baker Band will provide music and wineries will offer samples of their wares. Tickets are still available: Call 918-266-6042 or email the whale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A serendipitous find: LIFE magazine's April 13, 1942, issue included a six-page story about high school education in Tulsa, with photos by Alfred Eisenstaedt. The story, "Tulsa High Schools: They Are Making Progressive Education Work," highlighted non-traditional classes and teaching techniques at three of Tulsa's four high schools -- Central, Daniel Webster, and Will Rogers:
- Central's rhythmic dance class for girls and water safety class
- Student custodians washing Central's front steps for 25 cents per hour (attn: Newt Gingrich)
- Central's cooperative education program: Students split time between a job and school, where they study work related subjects. The two examples given are Raymond Stout, who works as a machinist for W. C. Norris, a maker of oilfield equipment, and Ida Bess Giboney, who sells lingerie at Vandever's department store.
- A "block period" at Central: Three teachers of different subjects work with a group of students on different aspects their assignments, using magazines and newspapers instead of textbooks. "Artificial barriers between subject areas [are] abolished."
- Webster's Family Life class: Students provide full-day daycare for three- and four-year-olds.
- Webster's sewing class
- Will Rogers's commercial art class
- An odd-looking flag salute at a Will Rogers High assembly
- Central students lobbying the Tulsa Parks Commissioner
And, according to the caption, Central student Charlene Houston had a figure problem and had to do exercises with her pelvis in a vise to fix it.
There are many more photos from Eisenstaedt's visit in Google's image archive, above and beyond those that made it to print. Unfortunately and surprisingly, Google doesn't make it easy to search by the photographer and location tags attached to each image, and there's no way to get to a complete set of related photos. Best thing to do is to click on Miss Houston and then click on thumbnails of related photos. Where I could find them, I've linked my description (above) of photos that appeared in the story to the online image.
The story itself hints that as early as 70 years ago, the Tulsa school district was beginning to abandon basics for "progressive" fads. Which is not to say that these students were poorly educated. I suspect that, by the end of 8th grade, these students would have received as much education in the basics of math, grammar, and history as today's students get by the time they graduate.
The problem with taking a blog hiatus to focus on day job and family assignments is that it's hard to figure when it's worth breaking the hiatus to post something. News happens all the time, so if I didn't post about the Big National Story yesterday, why should I break the hiatus with today's Moderately Big Local Story.
So instead I'll break the silence with something that isn't newsworthy in the least. A while ago I asked for readers to send in documents from the pen of Tulsa perennial candidate Accountability Burns, aka A. Einstein V Belcher Burns.
One friend (I'm not sure if he wants to be identified) sent in three documents. This first one I'm publishing here is a letter from Accountability Burns to the Oklahoma County Bar Association, dated January 15, 1984. This is a fine example of Burns's use of simplified spelling, and notice that he helpfully identifies his old name c. 1975 at the end.
dayt = Sun., 1-15-84, 1:20Am-Mun.
Accountability Burns (E5)
1119 S. Rockford, #3
Tulsa OK 74120
- too = OklaCtyBarAsso
in ray: Bil, Lahwuhyr Refurl Serv.-Statemt 10-11-83 = 315.00
case = False Arrest, J.LsePortis-atty, Sep.16,1983
kahpee = Fred Nelson, atty-Ams.Cos. &: defunkt MentorCorp.-bush
This iz belaytd check, pay OCBA. foh fyndn J .LeePortis, az
Speshlist in Const.Law-CR-FawlssUhrest, 1973 kayes, fyld in
OCDC, ginst 3 defs = bush-Mentor-BOK-AmsCos., OC pigs dept,
Awlzoh enclsd iz $50 check foh Portis, too pay foh LeeglConsult,
hr awn fahnix, Tulsa-OK, too diskuss kayes, downpaymt awn ackshn
too kumbyn kayes with uthr in USSCt, fum OkSCt (Burns v. Slater-SEB, '74).
Therr wil bee sum resrch needid, too lohkayt fyl, determine
fee foh xtr uv jurisdixn or purmishn too kumbyn or syt-refer
too USSCt. Portis kan handl bohth kaysiz, 1973 ackshn fyld in '75
& 1974 ackshn fyld in 1974.
In 1983, hav bin bizzee with noo ackshunz-kays/iz, fawlss uhrest
in Aug.14, '82 by Tulsa pigs, & AGE-SAGE-WAGE & uthr discrim. by
TJC in Aug. '83, in hiring. daytn back too Dec. '68 & Jan. '69,
wen returnd too Tulsa fum Hibbing-Minn too start EinsteinU.=TSU=
TJC=UCAT. Awlzoh, had misteeryus foot infexn, layd up sevrl wks.
Kayes iz in poltix, now, soh that accnts foh mutch delay too.
Demandid fum bush-Mentor-BOK-Wms.Cos. & OC pigs & VAH-OC =
$3.000.000.00, foh tortchr, intents payn, anguish, lawst inkm-jahbs.
Must hohld awf awn estimut uv demand in Burns V. Slater, too rush this.
-E5 (1975 = Gene Crandall Burns)
Some local pride in the international press:
The Daily Mail (London) has a feature story with photos of Jennie Cluck's beautifully restored 1955 home in Tulsa's Wedgwood neighborhood. There's an open house today (Saturday, June 2, 2012) from 10 am to 3 pm, hosted by Modern Tulsa, a program of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. The Daily Mail story mentions that the house is featured in the new book Atomic Ranch: Midcentury Interiors. From the Modern Tulsa blog:
According to the Parade of Homes guide from 1956, "The Citation," built by Lloyd Creekmore, has a combination kitchen, utility, dining room, and family room that "is sure to be the cynosure of discriminating eyes." One bathroom has a translucent plastic ceiling, square tub, and a unique divider between the double sinks and commode. The extra large master bedroom has a built-in television set. The living room has slanted and beamed ceilings, ribbon strip mahogany paneling, and a corner fireplace with a built-in barbecue rotator.
Tulsa is also featured in a "He Said/She Said" article on National Geographic's Intelligent Travel site, in which native Tulsans Denver Nicks and Andrea Leitch describe their favorite places. I learned about a few places previously unknown to me (e.g., Buffalo's BBQ in Sperry) and was reminded of some great things about Tulsa I haven't experienced for a while. If you ever need to explain to a friend from elsewhere what you love about our city, this article would be a great conversation starter.
(In case you're wondering -- the picture of Weber's in that article is not the Tulsa Weber's. It's in Pennsauken, New Jersey, one of a few surviving outlets of a chain. This 2001 article about the New Jersey Weber's Drive-Ins notes that New Jersey no longer licenses drive-in eateries.)
From the grooveyard of forgotten favorites, here's a song from the summer of 2003 and the run-up to the Vision 2025 sales tax vote, a parody of "All That Jazz," written and sung by then-KFAQ morning show sidekick Gwen Freeman, with patter from morning show host Michael DelGiorno. I came across it tonight while looking for something else, but it was a timely find; since an entirely new set of Tulsa County Commissioners is talking about increasing or extending the Vision 2025 sales tax, even though the original tax still has four more years to run. Click the picture to listen.
"Feasibility, schmeasibility! We don't need no stinkin' study!"
Received this in email and thought it might be of interest to BatesLine readers who are interested in historic preservation and local history. The sale runs three of the next four weekends, 10 am to 4 pm.
Reclamation Station LLC 412 So. Frankfort, Tulsa, OK Pam Curtis, proprietor
YEARS OF FINDING, GATHERING, SAVING AND STORING WONDERFUL ARCHITECTURAL SALVAGE AND ECLECTIC ANTIQUES.
Now it's time to sell it all.
Lost my lease at 412 South Frankfort, in downtown Tulsa. All materials must be sold.
Includes: pedestal sinks, spectacular peg-leg porcelain sinks, drain board kitchen sinks, pink toilet and sink, oak hardwood flooring, great set of carriage garage doors, wood windows, Mexican Saltillo floor tiles, vintage gas cook stoves (O'Keefe & Merritt, Roper, etc.), completely reworked Chambers gas stove, small amount of iron porch railing, original and historic terra cotta decorative tiles from the Mayo Building (own a piece of Tulsa's history!), interior doors, heavy duty steel warehouse shelving system, wooden jewelry display cases, hydraulic door closers (Mayo building), various architectural items from homes in Tracy Park, Maple Ridge, Swan Lake, Yorktown and other Tulsa neighborhoods like light fixtures, porch flooring, window stops, etc. Also, an electric forklift!! Many other items, too numerous to mention! Loads of items from estates which will make great upcycle items for you creative and adventurous types.
May 26 & 27 10:00-4:00 June 2 & 3 10:00-4:00 June 15 &16 10:00-4:00
********* CASH ONLY ********
Researching a longer article, which won't get done tonight, I came across some items about Tulsa perennial candidate Accountability Burns, aka Gene Burns, aka Boss Einstein-Burns!, aka Boss Man Einstein. So here's a bit of pure weblogging to capture locations of materials about Accountability Burns.
- 1978 MARS-gram from Accountability Burns with his platform for mayor of Tulsa
- 1984 campaign ad for Accountability Burns for County Commissioner
- Accountability Burns 1998 filling to run for Tulsa police and fire commissioner
- Boss Einstein-Burns appears before the City of Tulsa Board of Adjustment to oppose Hillcrest Medical Center expansion
- Boss Einstein's Fishy-Eyed Press Review, mailed on December 1, 1993, to Harold Weisberg, part of the Harold Weisberg archive of FOIA documents. This is a prime example of Burns's work.
- Accountability Burns's 1994 federal lawsuit against the CIA
- Einstein-Burns v. Gober, 1997 federal appeal
- Boss Man Einstein's 1998 federal lawsuit against the downtown YMCA
- Accountability Burns's 1998 lawsuit against the Veterans Administration
- Accountability Burns 2006 filing to run for Tulsa mayor
If you have stories about Accountability Burns or some of his writings, send them along and I'll post them here.
Legendary Tulsa TV weatherman Don Woods is "gravely ill", but "in good spirits" according to a report on KTUL.com:
Don is now 84 years old. He spoke with Channel 8 News Director Carlton Houston Tuesday and says he's been in good spirits recently and enjoying the company of family and friends.
Don Woods was the meteorologist for KTUL channel 8 from its first sign-on in 1954 until his retirement in 1989, and every weathercast featured an impromptu cartoon of a character named Gusty illustrating the forecast. The cartoon would go to a lucky viewer whose name was announced on the air. Our wild weather is an inherently interesting topic, but Don Woods' lighthearted and friendly manner made it fun to hear about cold fronts and high pressure cells as he sketched them on the US map. I imagine I wasn't the only Tulsa kid inspired to ask for a home weather kit for Christmas by Don Woods and his KOTV contemporary Lee Woodward. It was a golden age for local TV, a time of homegrown creativity, replaced too soon by cookie-cutter consultant-driven content.
Woods often made appearances at churches and schools; I remember him doing a presentation at our little church sometime in the '70s, and everyone left with an original Gusty sketch. Since his retirement, Don has often appeared at the Tulsa State Fair and trade shows on behalf of a local company, drawing Gusty and visiting with the fans who grew up watching him. In 2005, Gusty was designated as the official cartoon of the State of Oklahoma.
As concerned as he was about today's weather, Don Woods's greater concern for his audience is epitomized in the title of a little booklet featuring Gusty as its main character: "Do You Know How to Have a Happy Forever?" You can read the booklet online (in English, French, Spanish, and Russian), download a printable digital copy, or order copies in bulk to give away.
It was touching that the KTUL.com story made special mention of the booklet and provided a direct link.
Don wants everyone to know that Gusty -- who is now the official state cartoon of Oklahoma -- is still uplifting people and making them happy to this day.
Don is also well known for a little orange booklet. It's called, "Do you know how to have a happy forever?"
It features Gusty's message that God loves you. Over the years, Don has passed out thousands of these books around the world.
You can find information about the book at his website, www.gusty.us/books.htm. There, you can also leave a note of encouragement for Don.
You can also leave a message for Don in the comments on the KTUL.com story, and they'll be passed along to him.
Please join me in praying for Don Woods's health, and take a moment to leave a happy memory and a kind word for him.
MORE: Tulsa TV Memories has more on the history of TV weather in Tulsa, with an eight-minute TCC video of Don Woods reminiscing about his years covering weather on TV. I especially enjoyed hearing about the origins of Tulsa's first TV weather radar and the filming of the legendary "The News Guys" western-style promo.
A bit busy tonight, so here's Tulsa music legend Rocky Frisco performing an original song, "The Blues for You," at the Church Studio. It's an excerpt from the movie Red Dirt on 66.
And here's Rocky under his original stage name, Rocky Curtiss, from 1955, with his band the Harmony Flames, performing "Teenager in Love."
An instrumental from the same album, "Big Teddy":
Via TulsaGal, we learn of a cool new way to use modern technology to explore local history.
In my Government 2.0 feature story for This Land, I mentioned last October's Tulsa Hackathon, in which teams of beer-and-pizza-fueled developers created mobile applications for local agencies and non-profits.
One of the apps born at that time has now been officially released by the Tulsa City-County Library and is available in Apple's App store. It's called "Tulsa Then and Now: Mapping the BFC." From the description:
The Tulsa City-County Library's "Tulsa Then and Now: Mapping the BFC" app provides access to approximately 300 photographs selected from the Beryl Ford Collection. It includes streets, buildings, and residences. Browse, search, and view these historic images that document growth and change in Tulsa. The photographs have been mapped to allow for location-based browsing and to enable you to find images nearby your current location.
When you find a remarkable image from decades ago, share it via email, Twitter, or Facebook. Snap your own photo of present-day Tulsa and send it side-by-side with the historic image, creating your own custom Beryl-O-Gram. You can even use your iPhone's camera to overlay the historic photograph with your current view.
· Access hundreds of historic images
· See a map with drop pins that represent the photos
· Search for a photo or location
· Browse photos taken nearby your current location
· Share images through email
· Share images on Twitter
· Share images on Facebook
I don't have an iPhone, so I can't try this out myself, but I hope my iPhone-equipped readers will give it a try and send me the Beryl-O-Grams you create.
There's another Tulsa Hackathon just around the corner, April 13-15, 2012, with a focus on providing convenient access to open data.
You can browse the Tulsa Library's digital collections online, including photos and items from the Beryl Ford Collection.
Some years ago, I suggested that the Tulsa Library or Tulsa Historical Society put the Beryl Ford Collection on Flickr as a way to make the photos easier to tag and to make it easy to collect comments and annotations that would add context to the pictures. Several world-renowned archives, including the Library of Congress, began doing just that, as part of the Flickr Commons project.
Now Tulsa Library has followed suit, posting over 1000 photos of unknown people and over 250 photos of unknown places on their Flickr account, and asking Tulsans and others to look through them and see if the photos jog any memories.
There are many fascinating photos, some intriguing, some laugh-out-loud funny. Many of the photos appear to be taken in and around the American Legion hall. There are some wedding pictures, pictures of manufacturing companies, photos of pro wrestlers, golfers, hockey players, and bathing beauties, photos of new houses, remnants of TV advertising.
The photos were uploaded in full resolution, so you can zoom into the tiniest detail, and there you may find the clue that solves the mystery.
Here are a few favorites: Here's a steel guitar class for children. The little lady on the left end of the top row is barely bigger than her instrument, but she seems quite pleased about things.
And this photo seems to be from the same place on the same day -- it's Johnnie Lee Wills and Leon McAuliffe with a bunch of kids, one of whom has a book of music by Hawaiian steel guitarist Eddie Alkire:
I give this one the title, "You're next, tuna breath!"
MORE: Here's the description of the project from the Tulsa Library's blog:
TCCL now has a Flickr collection with sets for events, library locations, and special collections. Three sets in the special collections are devoted to the digital collections: local history, unknown people, and unknown places. Right now, local history is a small set featuring select images from the digital collections. The unknown people and unknown places sets consist of images from the collections that have little information. The Beryl Ford Collection, in particular, has thousands of images with little or no information. Resources to provide detailed descriptions and historical context for the many thousands of items in the digital collections are limited. With Flickr, we want to encourage user participation in the identification of the images and to make our resources more available, discoverable, and useful. We hope that both known and unknown audiences will want to comment, share, and engage in community conversations about our shared history. As an ongoing project, we will continue to add to the images that have been uploaded there. We invite you to take a look, let us know if you can identify any of the photos, and come back regularly to see additions.
As a point of comparison, Tulsa Transit bus service doesn't run evenings (except for a few special night lines), and typical headways are 30 minutes or longer between buses.
DO YOU KNOW
STREET CAR SERVICE
On the Kendall-West Fifth car line at 5:00 a.m. and after 6:44 a. m. a car each way every eight minutes.
On the Main street line at 5:20 a.m. and after 6:00 a.m. every seven and one-half minutes.
On the Bellview-Owen Park line at 5:15 a.m. and after 6:00 a.m. a car each way every 10 minutes.
On the North Peoria-South Frisco line at 5:10 a.m. and a car every fifteen minutes except during the afternoon rush hours, a car every ten minutes.
Tulsa Street Railway Company
Union Railway Company
Interurban cars leave Tulsa every hour on the hour from 6 a. m. to 12 o'clock midnight for Sapulpa and every hour on the half hour from 6:30 a. m. to 11:30 p. m. for Red Fork.
Interurban cars to Sapulpa carry baggage and express.
Package freight car leaves First and Guthrie streets 8:45 a. m. and 2:45 p. m., daily except Sunday.
(From p. 12, Monday, May 15, 1922, Tulsa Daily World, Weekly Business Review, a weekly page of small ads from local businesses, ads for two of Tulsa's three streetcar companies, the strictly local Tulsa Street Railway and the interurban Oklahoma Union Railway, which connected Tulsa, West Tulsa, Red Fork, and Sapulpa, as well as providing local service in Tulsa and Sapulpa. The third company, Charles Page's Sand Springs Railway, connected downtown Sand Springs with Archer Street in downtown Tulsa. A half-page ad in the Sunday, October 16, 1921, Tulsa Daily World, says that the TSR runs from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.)
Jack Frank, maker of many wonderful films about Tulsa history, has posted home movie footage of a Christmas parade in downtown Tulsa, from sometime in the late 1940s. The vantage point is on the east side of Main Street, a hundred feet or so south of 6th Street, looking west across Main Street and northwest beyond 6th on Main. The only nearby building still standing is the former HQ of Public Service Company of Oklahoma on the southwest corner of 6th and Main.
The floats are elaborate, appear to be depictions of nursery rhymes, but there are no signs to indicate who the sponsors were.
Someone who knows vehicles might be able to pinpoint the date more precisely. The three long words identifying the business on the northwest corner of 6th and Main (where Dalessandros once was located) might be a clue as well.
One of the fun things about blogging for over eight years is when someone posts a comment or sends an email about a long-ago blog entry. Someone is searching on the web for information, perhaps about family or friends, and finds one of my entries, then writes a note to fill in more details, often with a touching personal story.
Yesterday, Brenda Terry posted a comment on my entry on the 90th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Riot, in which I talked about Greenwood after the riot -- its rebuilding and flourishing, followed by its second demolition in the name of urban renewal. She offered her own recollections and those of her mother. Brenda is the daughter of blues great Flash Terry; Rocky Frisco recalls sitting in with Flash's band on Greenwood back in 1957, one of the anecdotes I cited in my talk about Greenwood's post-riot rebirth.
Thanks Mike for the information posted on this site regarding Greenwood's Post Riot history.
I am actually the oldest daughter of Flash Terry, you mentioned him briefly in your presentation. Recently my mother spoke about musicians who visited our house in the late 1950's before they were famous (i.e. Curtis Mayfield, Bobby Blues Bland, but that's another story).
My mother grew up on North Owasso, west of Peoria during the late 40's after her mother died. Her mother, before she died in 1940, lived directly across the street from the Mt. Rose Baptist Church on Lansing. She speaks fondly of those days, and of Greenwood. Actually everyone you speak with about Greenwood who is old enough to remember the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's and 60's in those days, speak with a hint of pride in their eyes, and a longing for the unity and pride they experience is visible in their voices. One of the memories I have as a very small child in the late 50's, is of my aunt who lived in one of the rooming houses on Deep Greenwood (looks like one of the homes in the photos posted). She worked as a dispatcher for a taxi company. Even now I can remember how bustling and alive the area was back then. When I think of the history plowed down in the name of progress, my heart sinks. The neighborhoods were a testimony for strong and determined people, who in some cases, had fought their way up from the bonds of slavery. During Urban Renewal development, my great-grandmother's home (where I was born),and rental property were destroyed.
Years later, Dunbar Elementary School where both my mother and her children attended, destroyed. I am ashamed that every residence who had history in not only Greenwood, but North Lansing, Owasso, and other streets now under I75, did not make their voices heard, and more importantly make themselves understood. I was a teenager at the time with no interest in history, but since I began researching my family history, I have learned that to know our history is to understand ourselves. Without this knowledge we have no foundation and lack direction.
Thanks again and with deep regards, Brenda.
Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) chairman Bill Leighty came across a wonderful documentary short subject about Tulsa. The 15 minute film was part of the Cities in America series, produced by the United States Information Service, the Cold War-era organization that used a variety of media to promote a positive image for America overseas.
The film tells the story of Sam Carson, a long-time Tulsan who had watched the city develop from its early days, his son Henry and daughter-in-law Ellen, and his grandchildren, Tom, Eddie and Janet. I'm curious to look them up in the Polk directory.
The film shows downtown Tulsa in its post-World War II heyday, with scenes on Boston and Boulder Avenues, a brief shot of kids emerging from a Saturday matinee at the Delman Theater. If you look closely and quickly, you'll spot the Beacon Building when it still had a beacon on top, 320 Boston when it was the National Bank of Tulsa. The University of Tulsa dominates one section of the film, and you get brief glimpses of the American Airlines maintenance facility and the lovely Art Deco municipal airport terminal.
At some point, I hope to give this little film the full James Lileks treatment, a lengthy blog post with still shots and details about each. I'm intrigued by one brief scene about 5 minutes in, showing a modern looking Oklahoma Tire & Supply store (you may have known it as OTASCO), with Vandevers in the background. The next scene shows a modern facade on a dress shop called Dorothy's. It ought to be possible to date the film by some of the features. Near the end of the film, it's mentioned that the Arkansas River has not yet been dammed. There are brief shots of a school, a library, and a park.
For now, enjoy, and tell us if you spot anything or anyone you recognize.
MORE: Architect and Tulsa history lover Paul Uttinger has written a scene-by-scene commentary, identifying locations in the film, and he thinks he's pinpointed the date:
1. On the map of Tulsa (time mark 1:05), West Tulsa and Garden City are shown east of the river. East Tulsa is shown north of the CBD. Trovillion is shown to the southeast of the CBD. I've read that Alsuma was re-named Trovillion for a short time. Howard is shown east of downtown Tulsa, about halfway between Trovillion and Dawson. I've never heard of a place called Howard there.
2. (1:44) Outside the Delman Theatre, Sam Carson waits for his grandchildren. He looks at the placard for The Last Round-up, starring Gene Autry. A poster for The Kissing Bandit, starring Frank Sinatra, is displayed in the window behind the placard.
3. (2:05) Sam, Janet, and Eddie walk north toward 3rd Street on Boulder Avenue in front of the World and Tribune building. The bottom of the Skelly Building sign is visible behind them. On the west side of Boulder, we can see the Citizens State Bank ( http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/B1911.jpg ) and the Beacon Building at 4th, part of the Petroleum Building and the Halliburton-Abbott Building (with the Sears store sign) at 5th, the corner of the Medical Arts Building at 6th, and a spire of Holy Family Cathedral at 8th. There's two-way vehicular traffic on Boulder.
4. (2:15) The Carsons walk west on 4th, heading toward Boston Ave. Two-way traffic on 4th.
5. (2:21) The three have turned south on Boston. They're on the sidewalk next to what was originally known as the Cosden Building, which is now the old portion of the Mid-Contintent Tower.
6. (2:34) They're still walking south on the east side of Boston, but suddenly they are north of 4th Street again!
7. (2:44) Eddie and Janet wave to a policeman from the northeast corner of 4th & Boston. The policeman appears to be standing next to the Pioneer Building, but I don't see the Bell System "Public Telephones" sign that was displayed on that corner ( http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/B9978.jpg ).
8. (2:55) The Carsons look at an oil boom display in a
PhiltowerPhilcade window. (CORRECTION from Paul Uttinger: "They are south of 5th, so it's not the Philtower, as I said in a previous email. It's probably the Philcade, around 511 S. Boston. The construction sign for the First National Building is across the street in the same scene, so that definitely dates the film prior to July 1950, when the tower was slated to open for business.")
9. (4:49) Looking south on Boston from the Katy tracks. The First National Bank Building appears to be under construction, with a crane leaning out over Boston near 5th Street.
10. (4:53) Looking northwest at 4th & Main (Arby's is there now).
11. (4:55) Northeast corner of 4th & Main (Ken Brune's Reunion Center Bldg now).
12. (4:58) 5th & Boston, looking east. We can see the corner of the Philcade Building and the sign for the D-X service station at 502 S. Cincinnati ( http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/D4283.jpg ).
13. (5:16) A brief moment of racial integration. West side of Main, 300 block, looking north. The pedestrians are on the sidewalk next to the Froug Department Store and Kinney Shoes (World Publishing's big and brutal facade is there now). The bottom of the Holly Store sign is in the background at the beginning of the scene. There's a warped reflection of the Globe Clothiers sign, which projected from their store building at 217 S. Main. There's a reflected "NS," which could be part of the signage at Stein's, which was on the southeast corner of 2nd & Main. The 3-story building which stood on the northeast corner of 3rd & Main is reflected in the shop fronts, too.
14. (5:24) Looking northwest near 6th & Boston. The Vandever building spans over the alley between Main and Boston, and an old Vandever's sign is still faintly visible from 6th Street today. The view of the sign we see in the short film has been blocked by the Enterprise Building since around 1954. In the film, Burt's Malt-A Plenty Ice Cream store is on the corner where the Enterprise Bldg is now, just north across 6th St from the Oklahoma Tire Supply building.
15. (5:27) Another moment of racial integration on a public sidewalk? Dorothy's was a clothing store for women, but in those days, men went there for a particular pre-Christmas event:
Recently, men have been returning to "occupy" that location once again.
16. (5:31) Back to the World and Tribune building on Boulder, between 3rd and 4th.
17. (5:34) Renberg's and Clarke's on the east side of Main, 300 block. I noticed that Renberg's changed their logo in the 1948 Polk directory to the lowercase type face we see in the short film and on the facade of the building today. The last time I peeked inside a few years ago, Renberg's former ground level sales floor had been converted to a parking garage.
18. (5:40) Looking south at the Boston Avenue Methodist Church tower from 12th Street. The Fred Jones Ford dealership is on the southeast corner ( http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/D4611.jpg ). Wat Henry Pontiac is on the southwest corner ( http://www.tulsalibrary.org/JPG/C1589.jpg ).
19. (7:08) The exterior of the "Carson" residence at 1735 S. Detroit Ave. In the 1946, 1950, and 1955 Polk directories, James Forster is listed at that address.
20. (7:14) Part of the house at 1725 S. Detroit is visible as Tom Carson leaves home to catch a bus to TU.
21. (7:19) Tom hails the "N. Denver" bus at 18th & Detroit. The bungalow at 302 E. 18th is visible in the background. The bus is heading west on 18th (7:29). (CORRECTED bus direction from "S. Denver")
22. (12:37) Looks similar to a few of the tanks near 21st & 33rd W Aveune ( http://tinyurl.com/TulsaTanks ).
23. (13:53) A partial view of the old Art Deco style Municipal Airport building.
24. (14:21) Looking southwest at 6th & Main.
25. (14:29) Old Public Library building at 3rd & Cheyenne. A bit of the the Mid-Co Bldg is visible in the background.
26. (14:37) 12th between Columbia Place and Delaware Avenue, looking northwest ( http://tinyurl.com/WilsonMS ).
27. (15:04) Henry Carson smoking somewhere northeast of the CBD. The final skyline view might have been shot from the top of the hill near North Elgin and Independence, judging from the perspective.
My best guess is that most or all of the local filming was done during the warmer months of 1949, based on the clothing worn by pedestrians and TU students, the lush foliage, the release date for The Kissing Bandit, and in-progress construction photos of the First National Bank and Trust building in the Beryl Ford Collection.
UPDATE: Paul sends along another confirmation of the 1949 date:
Another movie poster displayed at the Delman. I think it's for The Younger Brothers, which was released on May 3, 1949, according to Internet Movie Database. I can't see much of the Delman's poster, but the Technicolor film starred Bruce Bennett, Geraldine Brooks, and Robert Hutton, which all seems to jibe with what I can make out when Grandpa Carson and the kids leave the theatre.
A peek through the movie ads in the newspaper microfiche for May '49 might nail it down.
He also sends a link to a sharper version of the Tulsa film found on YouTube:
YouTube user Ella73TV2 has posted hundreds of public-domain historical documentaries of this sort.
This is encouraging news: In a few weeks, as soon as PSO puts the necessary electrical hookups in place, the Bell family of Bell's Amusement Park will be operating a few of their kiddie rides at the Saturday Flea Market in west Tulsa. The rides will be open on Saturdays during the flea market's weekly session.
Saturday Flea Market is at 5802 W. 51st Street S., just about a mile west of the southwest junction of I-44 and I-244. They boast 100 vendors in two climate-controlled buildings and outdoors. It's just east of JRP Speedway.
It's a humble re-beginning, but it echoes the way Bell's Amusement Park began in 1951 with a half-dozen small rides at the County Fairgrounds. It wasn't until 1969 that Zingo, the wooden roller coaster, began operation, and many of the park's other major attractions -- the Phantasmagoria dark ride, Himalaya, White Lightning log flume -- came into being over the course of the 1970s.
It also reminds me of the way the Snyder family brought back the Mayo Hotel: First converting the basement into paid parking, then converting the lobby and mezzanine as an event space, then leasing the storefronts, with each stage providing revenue for the next stage of renovation.
The location is just a couple of miles from the site of the long-vanished Crystal City Amusement Park, on Southwest Blvd between 41st Street and 33rd West Avenue. The site is now occupied by the Crystal City Shopping Center (whose name was the nemesis of radio announcers). Crystal City was home to a roller coaster named Zingo, which became the namesake for the wooden coaster at Bell's decades later. The 1939 Sanborn map shows Zingo ("scenic railway") hugging the highway, a stream flowing through the property (with a monkey island in the middle of it), a massive dance hall, a giant pool with a large bath house, "amusement houses", Dodgem (bumper cars), a ride called "Bug," a few smaller rides, an octagonal refreshment building, ticket offices, and something called Hiram's Barn. TulsaGal has photos of Crystal City Amusement Park from the late 1920s that show many of these features.
(Click the picture to open a very large version of the map in a popup window.)
According to the County Assessor's records (parcel 31125-92-27-17380), the Crystal City Shopping Center was built in 1954 and sits on 442,060 sq. ft. of land, a bit more than 10 acres, about the same size as Bell's footprint at the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Comparing the Sanborn map (Volume 3, Map 501) to the assessor's map, it appears that the highway department routed I-244 around the shopping center, taking homes to the east and moving the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union tracks further east as well. The site of the old amusement park is fully intact.
If I may dream a bit: Wouldn't it be cool to restore Crystal City on Historic Route 66 as an amusement park, right next to a restored Red Fork Main Street? Wouldn't it be cool to run an electric streetcar between Crystal City and the new Route 66 Village? The shopping center has seen better days, there are a whole bunch of rides that need a new home, the site has good visibility from the freeway, and it would give Route 66 travelers even more reason to follow the old alignment through Tulsa.
I came across some research, based on the 2000 U. S. Census, calculating various indicators of racial integration in the nation's 100 most populous metropolitan areas. It points to an impressive degree of progress over the last half century in Tulsa.
According to that paper, 16.3% of the City of Tulsa's population and 9.4% of the Tulsa Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) was African-American in 2000.
The researchers analyzed the racial composition of each census block, sorting them into four categories:
- >= 20% Black and >= 20% White (the authors of the study term these "black-white integrated blocks")
- < 20% Black and > 50% White
- > 80% Black
- Other Mixture
A census block is the smallest unit of census statistics. Streets, creeks, railroads, section lines, city limits all serve as census block boundaries. For example, a city block split in two by a railroad track would result in two census blocks.
In the Tulsa MSA, there were 75,471 African-Americans in the 2000 Census. 28.0% lived on blocks where the population was at least 20% black and at least 20% white. 28.7% lived on blocks where the population was less than 20% black and at least 50% white, 36.0% lived on blocks where the population was at least 80% black, and 7.4% on blocks with some other racial mixture.
Put another way, in 2000 64% of African-Americans in the Tulsa metro area lived on racially diverse blocks. In 1960 that number was below 10%. While there is a concentrated area of black population in north Tulsa, two-thirds of Tulsa's black population is scattered across the map.
I don't have census block data on population by race in 1960, but I do have that data by census tract -- areas of a few dozen blocks, often about a 1/2 square mile in area. In 1960, blacks were 8.7% of the City of Tulsa's population. In 1960, 91.6% of Tulsa's blacks lived in six census tracts -- 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, and 11 -- about 4 sq. mi. area bounded roughly by Cincinnati Ave on the west, Mohawk Blvd on the north, the Santa Fe tracks on the east. Outside of the City of Tulsa, the only significant clusters of blacks in Tulsa County in descending order, were the rural part of tract 2 (bounded by Mohawk Blvd, Yale, Peoria, Apache and 36th St. N), the city of Sand Springs, tract 67 (likely that most were in the South Haven subdivision near 51st St and 33rd West Ave), tract 76 (likely around Rentie's Grove), and tract 90 (likely in and around Alsuma)
So we've gone from over 90% of blacks living in a small part of the city in 1960 to living all over the metro area -- 64% outside of predominantly black areas -- in 2000. That seems like progress to me, but the authors of the research don't rank Tulsa as significantly integrated (see their maps of Tulsa) because there are so few blocks on which the population is at least 20% black and at least 20% white. In a city where the overall black population is less than 20%, that doesn't seem like a good measurement of integration.
Of course, geographical integration isn't necessarily a good measure of social integration either, as we tend to connect with people we know from church, school, and work and may not spend much time with our own neighbors.
Here are a couple of maps from the 1960 census reports, showing tracts in and round the City of Tulsa and for the rest of Tulsa County. I've superimposed pairs of numbers on some of the tracts. The first number is the number of blacks, the second is the total population of the tract. Red numbers are inside the city limits; blue numbers are outside. Click the pictures to view full size:
I'm working on analyzing the C-1 forms submitted by candidates for Tulsa City Council. In the process of locating real residential addresses for donors who insist on listing their business addresses, I needed to look at Osage County land records, and while I was there, on a whim I searched for "WILLS JAMES" as in James Robert aka Jim Rob aka Bob Wills. Wills owned a ranch described as "north of Tulsa" where he and his extended family lived. I'd always wondered exactly where it was.
His dream was to retire there with his whole band, but World War II intervened, the band went their separate ways, and he went to California, returning to Tulsa for a few years in the late '50s before heading to Texas for the rest of his career. His final resting place is in Memorial Park Cemetery here in Tulsa.
Lo and behold, I found this: A journal entry dated 2010/08/17, the result of a quiet title lawsuit in Osage County, CV-2001-403. The Grantor list has 32 names and appears to include Bob Wills, his parents, all of his brothers and sisters, one of his ex-wives (the former Mary Lou Parker of Pawhuska), and a number of nieces and nephews.
WILLS, J T
WILLS, EMMIE LEE
SULLIVAN, RUBY WILLS
SULLIVAN, ROBERT LEE
HOUSE, ELOISE WILLS
WILLS, JOHNNIE LEE
MCKEE, HELEN WILLS
MCKEE, JIM ROB
KERR, OLGA LOUISE WILLS
WILLS, JOHN DAVID
WILLS, BILLY JACK
WILLS, JOHN DEWEY
MCKEE, JIM ROB JR
OMSTEAD, KAREN L KERR
WILLS, JAMES R II
WILLS, JOHN D
LARIOS, KASEY LEE WILLS
TAYLOR, BOBBIE NELL SULLIVAN
WILLS, LORENE M
CLOUD, MARY LOU PARKER WILLS
MORROW, DELTA SUE HOUSE
STOUT, LERLENE HOUSE
COPPEANS, MILLICENT ANN WILLS
WILLS, JOHNT T
KELLEY, DAYNA MCKEE
SUITOR, SHYRL ANN KERR FIDDNER
BOUCHARD, JOYCE LEE WILLS
WILLS, LUTHER JAY JR
WILLS, BILLIE JACQULYN
Grantee is Presley Ford, Jr. An obituary reports that he died on January 15, 2002, at the age of 86.
On the court docket, the list of summonses appears to include all of Bob's living relatives as of 2001 and is followed by a long list of "entry of appearance and disclaimer of interest" notations in 2002. Then eight years intervene until the plaintiff moves to substitute the Osage Nation as plaintiff, and in two months, the title is quieted.
Here are the specifics from the county clerk record.
S15 T20N R12E NE NE
S14 T20N R12E NW NW L1
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S15 T20N R12E SE Partial
Instrument number: I-2010-005504
Pages 0181 to 0187
Mapping the location seems simple, but it appears that the township/range/section system for Osage County is skewed with respect to the rest of the state. The property appears to be north of the Osage Million Dollar Elm Tulsa casino and northeast of the old Downtown Airpark, but you'd need to see the full legal description in the lawsuit and an official plat map to know for sure. I don't have time to translate legalese, but there may be some relationship to the casino parcel, which was finally taken into trust in July 2011. (It had been thought that any land within the former Osage Reservation could be used for a tribal casino, but federal courts ruled that it's not a federally recognized reservation, so the land would have to be placed into trust.)
There's more research to be done. I imagine that the parcel settled by the quiet title suit may have only been a portion of Bob Wills's ranch. I'm curious to know what legal mishap left title to the land in question. I may need to mosey up to Pawhuska some day soon.
I'd like to give the cover story in the new issue of This Land the attention it deserves, but at the moment I'm overwhelmed by a backlog of entries in progress about the Tulsa City Council primary, now just eight days away, so we'll make do for now with links:
Lee Roy Chapman has written a detailed, well-researched historical essay on the links between Tulsa founding father Tate Brady, the Ku Klux Klan, a vigilante attack on IWW members (and the daily newspaper that supported it), and the city's attempt to dispossess the black Tulsans whose homes and businesses had been burned and looted in the attack on Greenwood (the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot).
Sidebars to the story: Steve Gerkin's history of Beno Hall, Tulsa's Klan HQ on north Main St., and a transcript and audio re-enactment of Tate Brady's testimony to the tribunal investigating Klan activity in Tulsa.
Fox 23 spoke to Tulsans about changing place names that honor Brady, including the Brady Heights historic neighborhood, Brady Street, and the Brady Arts District. I'm inclined to agree with 94-year-old race riot survivor Wess Young:
He doesn't want the neighborhood's name to change. "That's history, why would you try and change what has gone one and not show what progress you have made," he told FOX23. He says he doesn't live in Tate Brady's neighborhood, he lives in his neighborhood. No matter what name it has. "It doesn't bother me because I have the privilege to live where I can afford."
My thinking -- keep Brady Street and Brady Heights as a humbling reminder that men like Brady were a part of Tulsa's past, but pick a better name to market the area north of the tracks downtown. I like Lee Roy Chapman's suggestion: Call it the Bob Wills District.
I've recently come across several Facebook pages designed for reminiscing about location-specific childhood memories, and since I started this post several more have sprung up.
I've signed up for "You grew up in Catoosa if you remember.....". I never lived in the City of Catoosa, but Catoosa was more than just its corporate boundaries. Catoosa schools were the focal point of the community, and the district covers Rolling Hills (unincorporated territory back in the '70s), the little community four miles east on old 33 near Nuckolls Store, Ponderosa Estates, and several trailer parks. Rolling Hills Shopping Center and the surrounding neighborhood and the rural area between Catoosa and "Tulsa Proper" were within Tulsa's city limits after 1966, but there was still a connection with Catoosa.
Our family moved to Rolling Hills in 1969, then moved a mile west into the City of Tulsa in 1978. I started out at Catoosa schools, my mom taught kindergarten there for 28 years, and my sister graduated from there. Our family belonged to First Baptist Church of Rolling Hills for 17 years, and Dad was a deacon for much of that time. Dad also helped found the Port of Catoosa Jaycees chapter. I remember going to the candy store across from the elementary school; Mr. Sam the principal, Mrs. Martin the school secretary, and Mr. Parham the custodian; getting Rex's Chicken at Li'l Abner's Dairyette (owned by the Yocham family -- Mrs. Yocham was my "beginners" Sunday School teacher); riding my bike to the In-N-Out at Admiral and 200th for an Icee or walking to the U-Tote-M at 193rd & 4th Street for a Coke; swimming at the Blue Whale or the Rolling Hills trailer park pool.
Another group is open only to those who grew up in north Tulsa (north of Admiral) in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. A west Tulsa Facebook group launched today.
If you lived around 31st and Yale between 1967 and 1987, you probably went to Shaw's Drive In, and there's a Facebook group for that, too.
It's been fun to see old familiar names and read about old familiar places. If you find other Facebook groups devoted to reminiscing about growing up somewhere in the Tulsa area, please leave a comment with the name of the group and a link.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The success of the "You grew up in Catoosa if you remember..." group has inspired the planning of a sort of reunion on Saturday, October 15, 2011.
MORE: There's now a group devoted to Nowata, my Dad's hometown.
Today is the 90th anniversary of a white mob's attack on Tulsa's African-American district, known as Greenwood after its principal avenue. The attack, which began the evening of May 31, 1921, killed hundreds and left thousands wounded and homeless.
Once hushed up, the attack known as the Tulsa Race Riot has received an increasing amount of public attention over the last 30 years. I have half a shelf taken up with books on the topic, and I will leave that history to others who have told it far better than I could ever hope to do.
What is often overlooked is the triumph and tragedy that followed the riot. The story of Tulsa's Greenwood District did not end in 1921, and over the last few years I've taken it upon myself to learn that story and attempt to bring it to a broader audience.
After the riot, there was an attempt by the city's white leaders to keep Greenwood from being rebuilt. The City Commission passed an ordinance extending the fire limits to include Greenwood, prohibiting frame houses from being rebuilt. The idea was to designate the district for industrial use and resettle blacks to a new place further away from downtown, outside the city limits.
African-American attorneys won an injunction against the new fire ordinance; the court decreed that it constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment, a taking of property without due process. The injunction opened the door for Greenwood residents to rebuild.
They did it themselves, without insurance funds (most policies had a riot exclusion) or any other significant outside aid....
The Greenwood district flourished well into the 1950s. In 1938, businessmen formed the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. A 1942 directory lists 242 businesses, including over 50 eateries, 38 grocers, a half dozen clothing stores, plus florists, physicians, attorneys, furriers, bakeries, theaters, and jewelers -- more than before the riot 21 years earlier. The 1957 city directory reveals a similar level of commercial activity in Greenwood....
The rebuilding, subsequent renaissance, and final removal of Greenwood are documented by aerial and street photos, land records, fire insurance maps, newspaper stories, street directories, and census data.
All that raw data is fleshed out in the memories of those who lived through those times. Some of those stories have been captured in books like They Came Searching by Eddie Faye Gates and Black Wall Street by Hannibal Johnson.
Here are a couple of reminiscences included by Gates in her book that clearly connect the term Black Wall Street to the post-riot, rebuilt Greenwood:
"They just were not going to be kept down. They were determined not to give up. So they rebuilt Greenwood and it was just wonderful. It became known as The Black Wall Street of America."- Eunice Jackson
"The North Tulsa after the riot was even more impressive than before the riot. That is when Greenwood became known as 'The Black Wall Street of America.'"
- Juanita Alexander Lewis Hopkins
But then came the planners:
"Slum clearance," as a cure for Greenwood's ills, had been discussed for years, but in 1967, Tulsa was accepted into the Federal Model Cities program.
Model Cities was not just an ordinary urban renewal program. It was intended to be an improvement over the old method of bulldozing depressed neighborhoods. The Federal government provided four dollars for every dollar of local funding, and the plan involved advisory councils of local residents and attempted to address education, economic development, and health care as well as dilapidated buildings.
For all the frills, Model Cities was still primarily an urban removal program: Save the neighborhood by destroying it. Homes and businesses were cleared for the construction of I-244 and US 75 and for assemblage into larger tracts that might attract developers. Displaced blacks moved north, into neighborhoods that had been built in the '50s for working class whites.
Only the determination of a few community leaders saved a cluster of buildings in Deep Greenwood -- but these buildings are isolated from any residential area, cut off from community.
In April 1970, as Tulsa's Model Cities urban renewal program was beginning to demolish homes, Mabel Little, whose new home was burned down in the 1921 attack, told the Tulsa City Commission [from the April 11, 1970, Tulsa Tribune]:
"You destroyed everything we had. I was here in it, and the people are suffering more now than they did then."
Years later, Jobie Holderness reflected on the spiritual damage done by urban renewal:
"Urban renewal not only took away our property, but something else more important -- our black unity, our pride, our sense of achievement and history. We need to regain that. Our youth missed that and that is why they are lost today, that is why they are in 'limbo' now."
Here's my talk on this topic at Ignite Tulsa in 2009:
And here are links to previous BatesLine entries about Greenwood's renaissance:
Greenwood 1957: A summary of commercial activity in Greenwood, based on the 1957 Polk street directory of Tulsa.
Greenwood's streetcar: The Sand Springs Railroad (includes photos)
Tulsa 1957 restaurants: A KML (Google Maps) file locating restaurants listed in the 1957 street and phone directories, including many that lined Greenwood Ave.
Physical signs, such as the commemorative plaques along Greenwood's sidewalks and on the Greenwood Cultural Center, that document the district's reconstruction after the riot and demolition during urban renewal
Finally, here at a glance are three Sanborn maps from 1915, 1939, and 1962, showing Deep Greenwood over the decades:
Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1915
Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1939
Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1962
While looking for something else, I came across this, entered into the Congressional Record by Illinois Congressman Phil Crane on August 4, 1994 (p. E1664). Crane describes it as a speech Paul Harvey gave in Tulsa on April 2, 1994, but it reads more like a radio commentary reflecting on a visit to Tulsa. Harvey had returned to his hometown to speak at a benefit for the Salvation Army in March of that year.
Over my shoulder a backward glance.
The world began for Paul Harvey in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Ever since I have made tomorrow my favorite day, I've been uncomfortable looking back.
My recent revisit reminded me why. The Tulsa I knew isn't there anymore. And the memories of once-upon-a time are more bitter than sweet.
Of the lawman father I barely knew.
The widowed mother who worked too hard and died too soon. And my sister Frances.
Tulsa was three graves side-by-side.
Recently I came face-to-face with the place where a small Paul Harvey's mother buttoned his britches to his shirt to keep them up and it down.
Tulsa is a copper penny which a small boy from East Fifth Place placed on a trolley track to see it mashed flat.
It's a slingshot made from a forked branch aimed at a living bird, and the bird died, and he cried, and he is still crying.
That little lad was seven when he snapped a rubber band against the neck of the neighbor girl, and pretty Ethel Mae Mazelton ran home crying, and he, lonely, had wanted only to get her to notice him.
Somehow he blamed Tulsa for the war which took his best friend, Harold Collis...
And classmate Fred Mrarkgraff...
And never gave them back.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, he learned the wages of sin smoking grapevine behind the garage and getting a mouthful of ants.
Longfellow Elementary school is closed now; dark.
Tulsa High is a business building.
The old house at 1014 is in mourning for the Tulsa that isn't there anymore.
It was in that house that a well-meaning mother arranged a surprise birthday party when he was sixteen; invited his school friends, including delicate Mary Betty French without whom he was sure he could not live.
He hated that party for revealing to her and to them his house, so much more modest than theirs.
Tulsa is where the true love of his life waved goodbye to the uniform that climbed aboard a troop train.
She was there waiting when he got back but they could not wait to say goodbye to Tulsa.
Tulsa was watermelon picnics in the backyard and a small Paul blowing taps on his Boy Scout bugle over the fresh grave of a dead kitten.
Tulsa, Oklahoma, used to be the fragrance of honeysuckle on the trellis behind the porch swing.
Mowing for a quarter neighbors' lawns that seemed then so enormous.
Only Tulsa's delicious tap water is as it was.
That and the schoolteachers...
Miss Harp and Miss Smith and Isabelle Ronan. These I am assured are still there somewhere--reincarnated.
In a sleek jet departing Tulsa's vast Spartan Airport at midnight, I closed my eyes and remembered...
When Spartan was a sod strip...
And a crowd gathered...
And a great tin goose landed...
And Slim Lindbergh got out...
And a boy, age nine, was pressing against the restraining ropes daring to foretaste fame--and falling in love with the sky.
The Tulsa I knew isn't there anymore. But it's all right.
A new Tulsa is.
I'll not be afraid to go home again.
I have made friends with the ghosts.
Note: I've corrected obvious misspelling and punctuation errors from the online Congressional Record (CR), and replaced the CR's use of three asterisks to indicate ellipsis with the standard three dots. The CR text mentions "Karold Collis" and "Fred Mrarkgraff." Harold Collis of Tulsa is listed in the roll of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard dead in World War II, so I've made that correction. I couldn't find any name resembling "Fred Mrarkgraff" in either the Army or Navy lists of casualties for Oklahoma, so I've left that uncorrected.
Zingo is for sale. The Bell's Amusement Park roller coaster that thrilled generations of Tulsans is being auctioned off on eBay by Better Price Surplus Warehouse for $400,000 or best offer.
Roller Coaster for Sale. Engineered and manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Erected in 1968 and dismantled in 2006. The Zingo Roller Coaster formerly at Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been dismantled, put in storage and is now for sale. The train, track, gears, motor, chain, bent legs, and lumber (2x6, 2x8, 4x4, 4x6, 6x6, 6x8, 6x12). Tens of thousands of board feet of lumber, all double kiln, dried pressure treated, yellow pine painted with white latex. The coaster was 72 feet at its highest point and 2,675 feet long. This lumber can be cut, sorted, loaded etc, at its present location as long as its gone by 5/30/2011.
This coaster is for sale as a whole unit or can be separated into 2 lots. The lumber as 1 lot and all other components (train, track, gears, motor, chain, etc.) as Lot 2. The asking price is $250,000 USD for each lot, or $400,000 USD in its entirety or Best Offer by 4/15/2011. This equipment and lumber must be moved from its present location by May 30th, 2011. We will entertain any serious offer and help with the logistics of the move. Contact Marc Price at 918-625-0492 or email email@example.com
It's not unheard of for a wood roller coaster to find a new home. Frontier City's Wildcat was relocated from Fairyland Park in Kansas City. Knoebels' Phoenix came from Playland Park in San Antonio. According to the Roller Coaster Database, there are only 167 operating wood roller coaster in the entire world; 120 of them are in North America. Perhaps Zingo can find a good home in another part of America or another part of the world. Or perhaps someone could find a place for it here in the Tulsa area.
Bell says he decided to sell Zingo because he needs the money to help open a new Bell's. And he says he's only selling what could be easily replaced, unlike some of the other rides at Bell's.
"So certain pieces we don't want to turn loose of, but Zingo is just a matter of lumber and bolts. And we have the trains and the chain, but even if we sold that, that could be replaced," he said.
In case you missed it, Joseph Hamilton, restaurant reviewer for Urban Tulsa Weekly had a cover story last week that at least partly answered a question I've long pondered: how would one go about keeping kosher in Tulsa?
I'm a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, which was founded as a Jewish fraternity in 1898, but became non-sectarian in 1954. During my years at MIT, about a third of our chapter's brothers were Jewish. It was interesting to notice the various levels of observance, particularly regarding dietary laws. Several brothers had a kosher kitchen set up in the basement, and they took turns cooking for each other. Just a few blocks from our house, on Harvard Street in Brookline, you could find a variety of shops offering kosher food. A number of brothers who came from less observant homes started to keep kosher and to adopt a more observant way of life while in college. But many of the Jewish brothers ate the same food as the rest of us; alternative entrees were available when pork was the main dish.
Hamilton's story does a good job of explaining that keeping kosher goes beyond avoiding pork and shellfish. It affects the appliances and utensils you use in cooking, your dishes, and the way in which meat is prepared. It is a challenging and complex way of life and requires careful thought and planning.
It also requires nearby merchants who can provide kosher ingredients. So are there kosher butchers and kosher delis in Tulsa? Is it practical to keep kosher in Tulsa?
But Rabbi [Marc] Fitzerman of B'nai Emunah said no one should have trouble finding kosher foods.
"Kosher-supervised goods are widely available in every part of the country," he said. "This is a fast-growing part of the economy; with many people who are not Jewish themselves seeking out kosher goods on the assumption that supervision insures greater quality. The challenge is almost always kosher meat.
"Many markets in Tulsa carry it, and the Synagogue always stocks products for the sake of convenience. But like many smaller communities, we don't have a local kosher butcher who can supply fresh goods. I hope that the Synagogue will eventually be able to remedy that problem, but it's a work in progress."
Rabbi Charles Sherman of Temple Israel said that because of the almost total lack of kosher restaurants and a decided lack of a Jewish neighborhood and temples within walking distance, Orthodox Jews simply don't move to Tulsa. Keeping an Orthodox and kosher lifestyle is an almost unachievable goal in anything other than the most austere of circumstances.
Others in the Jewish community echo his sentiments by saying without hesitation that there are no places in Tulsa that accommodate the kosher community well and no kosher-only meat markets at all. Even travelers passing through Tulsa planning to stick with a kosher diet have to pack their bags with a few of their own foods. The Tulsa International Airport only offers retail packaged items that are certified kosher.
I was pleased to see that Hamilton spoke to Rabbi Yehuda Weg of the Chabad House, home to Tulsa's often-overlooked third synagogue, Beth Torah. Temple Israel, a Reform congregation, and B'nai Emunah of the Conservative denomination have been around for 96 and 94 years respectively. Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, has only been in Tulsa since 1988, the first Orthodox presence in the city since B'nai Emunah moved into the Conservative fold some decades ago. Unlike the two older congregations, Beth Torah doesn't have a large and elaborate physical plant; they are based in a 1940s farmhouse on a couple of acres, tucked back in a neighborhood. It would have been interesting to read Rabbi Weg's advice to those seeking to keep kosher in Tulsa.
MORE about Jewish history in Tulsa and Oklahoma:
Wikipedia's list of synagogues in Oklahoma, including inactive synagogues in Ardmore, Enid, Chickasha, and Hartshorne.
"Jews" article in Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture: The Jewish population in Oklahoma peaked at 7,500 in the 1920s, was about 5,000 at the 2000 census.
Part 1 of Tulsa's Jewish Pioneers, which notes that in the 1910s, there were two kosher butchers -- one at Main, Boulder, and Haskell, and one on 9th between Cincinnati and Detroit.
Meats 2 U: A shop at B'nai Emunah offering kosher meat.
Wikipedia article on Jewish religious movements, explaining the differences between Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other movements
Natasha Ball (Tasha Does Tulsa) has posted the notes from her presentation last week at Ignite Tulsa 3 -- 19 Ways to Get to Know Your Town (Even If It's Not Tulsa). All the suggestions are good (except maybe 17 -- if I ever do Foursquare it'll be under a pseudonym). I particularly approve of the advice to see a city on foot and to get involved in church, clubs, and causes, particularly if you plan to be around for a while. (On a recent trip to Wichita, I attended the unveiling of their new downtown plan; very interesting to compare it to the PLANiTULSA process.)
Over the last couple of years, I've had the opportunity to spend some extended time in other cities. Here are five things I do to get to know a new city.
1. Study a map: Google Maps and Tom-Toms are all well and good, but there's no substitute for poring over a street map on paper to get a handle on where things are, how they relate to one another, and what might be of interest. A map gives you opportunities for serendipitous discoveries that you might never make on the web: A point of interest with an obscure or intriguing label, a street that deviates from the grid, the names of neighborhoods and districts. If you're a AAA member, you can stop by the office on 15th St. between Utica and Lewis to get a street map for a city you're planning to visit -- it's included in your membership.
2. Peruse the WPA Guide for the state: Back during the Great Depression, the Federal Government set writers and photographers to work documenting each of the states -- history, culture, economy, cities, and highways -- as they were in the late 1930s. Each book features a series of driving tours with descriptions of landmarks and historic sites. Some of the places are long gone, but many are still there, if perhaps overlooked. You'll find these books in the library (and on Google Books) under a number of names: Federal Writers' Project, American Guide Series, WPA Guide. Often the book will have a map showing the paths that U. S. and state highways took through town in the days before freeways and interstates, and that leads me to my next point.
(Oklahoma: A Guide to the Sooner State ought to be on the bookshelf of every Oklahoman. If you can find the University of Kansas reissue, The WPA Guide to 1930s Oklahoma, it contains an essay by historian Angie Debo that was cut from the original edition.)
3. Follow the old highway routes through town: Look for a map from the 1950s or earlier showing the streets that were designated as US or state highways, and then drive the road between downtown and the outskirts of town. On the edge of the city, you'll find commercial architecture from the heyday of the family road trip: old motels and tourist courts, diners, gas stations, tourist traps, and curio shops. This is where you're likely to find flamboyant neon signage designed to catch the eye of a weary dad behind the wheel of his station wagon. While roadside architecture along the interstates looks the same from one end of the country to the other, back before the interstates roadside buildings bore the imprint of local character and local imagination. Here you may still find cafes that once catered to tourists and truckers but now mainly serve the locals.
Closer to town, the old highways are likely to take you past the kind of neighborhood commercial districts which are often incubators for urban revitalization. Tulsa's Cherry Street developed along what was once U. S. 64, the main road between Tulsa and Muskogee and Ft. Smith. This is where you might find an interesting antique shop or a hip coffee house.
4. Hang out in an indie coffeehouse: You don't have to answer all your email from your lonely hotel room. Find a friendly locally-owned coffeehouse with wifi. These places often serve as de facto community centers, and the bulletin board and the barista can tip you off to live music, gallery exhibits, festivals, lectures, and other types of local flavor. I always check IndieCoffeeShops.com, a crowd-sourced database that uses Google Maps to help you locate coffeehouses. When I find one that isn't listed, I give back by adding it to the IndieCoffeeShops.com database. You can filter the search for wifi, food (more than just pastries), beer and wine, and whether or not smoking is allowed and outdoor seating is available. UrbanSpoon is another way to search for cafes, pubs, and restaurants with free wifi.
5. Check out the local alt-weekly: Many alt-weeklies publish an annual "Best of" edition that will clue you in to the locals' favorite places to shop, eat, drink, and play. You can usually find the most recent "Best of" on the paper's website. The latest edition (likely available at the aforementioned indie coffeehouse) will give you a calendar of events and often interesting feature stories spotlighting local issues, performers, artists, and eateries.
William Franklin, a Tulsa muralist, wants to create a museum in Tulsa devoted to Art Deco. He calls the idea "Decopolis," and he's working incrementally to gather fellow deco fans to help make this dream a reality. Supporters of Decopolis held a Deco Ball earlier this year in the zig-zag deco lobby of the Oklahoma Natural Gas building at 7th and Boston. The next promotional event is a Gatsby Picnic on Sunday, October 3:
The idea comes from the book the "Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald. On the lawn of his mansion, Jay Gatsby would throw fabulously extravagant parties that everyone longs to attend. Gatsby has his own beach, a swimming pool, tents having overflowing food buffets, and live music under the stars. These parties, frequented by the sophisticated old money families from the east and the new, "rough around the edges" wealthy from the west, were the epitome of 1920s indulgence and opulence.
A Gatsby Picnic is a chance to step back to this luxurious time and have a little fun. Period costume is highly encouraged. The setting for our picnic will be the lawn of the magnificent Harwelden Mansion. There will be tents selling foodstuffs, but we do encourage you to bring a picnic basket and blanket. Some even go so far as to set up dining room tables and chairs or have a sitting room type set up with say, comfy wicker chairs, a rug and coffee tables. We will be having a contest for best picnic set-up. We will also have badminton, bocce ball, and croquet games going on. Plus, we will have "deco era" 1920's-40's cars at the event. If you know of anyone who has a car from that era, have them go to our sign up page on the DECOPOLIS website, we would love to see them there. The picnic is free, but as this is also a fundraiser to help create an Art Deco Museum for Tulsa, we will have raffle tickets, great silent auction items, and a percentage of what is sold at the food and arts tents will go towards the museum fund.
For more info about Decopolis, visit the website and sign up for the monthly Decopolis Star Dispatch, an email newsletter with updates on museum plans, a spotlight on an Art Deco building or artifact, and period cartoons, drawings, and jokes.
I received an email of appreciation about the BatesLine entry on Radio's Online History Resource, and I was asked how I find this stuff. In this case, I had done a Google search for Hal O'Halloran -- his name had come up in an email conversation among a group of us who were regular listeners and callers to Hal's sports talk shows in the late 1970s and early 1980s on KXXO, KTOW, and KELI.
As it happened, the reader who asked the question, radio veteran Chuck Fullhart, had worked with Hal in the 1970s, and he had an interesting story about one Tulsa station's broadcasts of our minor league baseball team at the time, the Tulsa Oilers of the American Association:
I had the pleasure of working with Hal doing the Oiler broadcasts one season. If memory serves me correctly, it was the time after he had left 8 and had started doing the talk shows.
My job as PD at KBJH, later KCFO was one of the more interesting and challenging that I held while worshipping at the Shrine of The Golden Transmitter.
And working with guys like Hal made it a real pleasure.
The station income went into a black hole in the college books somewhere (the licensee was American Christian College-Billy James Hargis's school that he founded), and we were constantly looking at sports events and anything that we could peddle to make money in the afternoon and evening hours.
What you heard was what you got with Hal. Really just a nice guy, and extremely knowledgable as a broadcaster and sportscasster. That was 8's loss.
We just provided Hal with a mixer and mike, and made sure that the phone line was installed, and Ma Bell managed to put a few gray hairs on my less that plentiful head of hair by getting the installation done an hour before an away match started.
KCFO also made a deal with the devil, A. Ray Smith, to carry the Tulsa baseball games for about 2 seasons.
I didn't have to deal directly with the gentleman, but I had heard the stories about him for years.
Terry Green was the announcer on the payroll at the time with the team.
The first year, it was just putting in the phone lines to the away games, and selling the time.
The second year, after looking at the costs, someone made the decision that we would not carry the away games,since the cost of the phone loops were to expensive, and that the away games had to be recreated.
This was a real challenge for a station with no sound library, and a relatively primitive setup with equipment. Lots of mikes, and a couple of studios, but not much else.
We finally went to a few of the games, recorded the background sounds, bats cracking, cheering, etc. and put them on carts.
When Terry was in the studio for the away games, he would crack a bat, or the guy on the board at the time would crack the bat, and make sure that the crowd cheered, etc.
It was hard to believe that we were actually doing that in the early 70s, when it probably had not been done since the mid 50s.
One of my most prevelant memories is Terry's recovery after asking some ball player a question during the pre game or post game when he would interview and spotlight the various players, and there being nothing but dead air for 30 seconds while the highly paid, athletically talented but either not too interested or just bored player would either not respond or just grunt a yes or no. That's the best training in the world, and I think all three people listening at the time realized it.
Many thanks to Chuck for allowing me to share this story on BatesLine. For more of Tulsa's sportscasting and baseball history, be sure to check out TulsaTVMemories.com, where you can find some of my reminiscences about Hal O'Halloran, too.
Oklahoma City has a new museum. Retro Metro OKC was launched recently, an online archive of Oklahoma City history, devoted to making artifacts and images of the city's past more readily accessible to the public via the Internet. Its mission statement:
Retro Metro OKC is dedicated to educating the community and its visitors about local history by collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting materials reflecting the heritage of Oklahoma City.
RetroMetroOKC was started in September, 2009 by a group of history enthusiasts wishing to better promote and tell the history of the greater Oklahoma City metro and to support and work with like-minded organizations whenever possible. We are dedicated to making history fun and accessible to all. The founding group consists of historians, authors, urban planners, attorneys, real estate professionals, videographers and designers with ages ranging from 17 to 70.
I see some familiar names on the founders' roster: Oklahoman reporter and blogger Steve Lackmeyer (president of the organization), Jack Money (reporter and co-author with Lackmeyer of two books on Oklahoma City history, and co-founder of okchistory.com), Doug Loudenback (who has singlehandedly created a great web resource on Oklahoma City history), urban planner Blair Humphreys.
A Retro Metro OKC press release (via Dustbury) explains how the collection will be built:
Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner's collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner's possession -- the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.
The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents -- and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.
This is exciting. It's a great way to collect and display historical information, and I look forward to seeing the collection grow. I'd love to be a part of such an effort here in Tulsa. So much material is already in the possession of the Tulsa Historical Society (photographs, ephemera, and artifacts, including the massive Beryl Ford Collect), the Tulsa Library system (vertical files, old government documents), INCOG (historical aerial photos and maps), the City of Tulsa (permits, ordinances, maps) -- but it needs to be digitized, categorized, and organized online in some form. The Retro Metro OKC folks were wise enough to realize that no one person, no one organization could tackle the job alone.
Nevertheless, I'm thankful for the all the local Tulsa history that is already available online. Tulsa Gal has been posting photos and ads from the Official Book of Tulsa in Pictures, a special publication for the 1927 International Petroleum Exposition and Tulsa State Fair. Her July archive contains all six parts of her Tulsa 1927 series.
Some of the most interesting aspects of these photos are the incidental details that are captured, details that would have been routine at the time, not noteworthy, but which are fascinating today. James Lileks calls this phenomenon "inadvertent documentary." For example: Go through the Tulsa 1927 posts and count how many times you see streetcar tracks, streetcar wires, or an actual streetcar.
Tulsa Gal also posts a regular photo trivia question on the Tulsa Historical Society Facebook page.
My apologies for the lapse since my last post. I've been writing, but it's all technical stuff for the gig that pays most of the bills.
While I was at the Coffee House on Cherry Street cranking away on that technical documentation, a customer at the next table, a gentleman named Cecil Cloud, said hello, identified himself as a BatesLine reader, and mentioned a post here about historic maps.
Cecil showed me an amazing collection of U. S. Geological Survey maps of Indian Territory and Oklahoma, online at the University of Texas Perry Castañeda Library Map Collection. Most of the maps predate statehood.
Take a look at this map showing Tulsa as part of the Claremore quadrangle, 1897. What's fascinating is that this is before the Dawes Commission, before land was allotted in quarter-sections to enrolled tribal members, and therefore before the familiar grid of section line roads was established. The townships, ranges, and sections were established, and are shown on the map as a reference grid, making it possible to pinpoint old locations with respect to the present day arterial grid. But the roads on these pre-1900 maps show a network of roads that follows the land, connecting settlements as directly as the terrain will allow.
Here's the section of the map covering what is now midtown and downtown Tulsa.
The grid of early day Tulsa is there, laid out parallel and perpendicular to the Frisco tracks which gave birth to the town. But the grid extends only from modern day Cameron St to 4th St, Cheyenne Ave to Cincinnati Ave. Beyond that, notice the hub of trails just east of present day 21st and Harvard, probably close to the high point that was more recently occupied by a water tower (just east of 21st and Louisville).
Notice too the creeks and streams, long before they were turned into underground storm sewers or rerouted into concrete channels. It's interesting, too, to see the locations of fords and ferries.
Here's an interesting contrast in the neighboring quad to the north, covering Washington, Nowata, and northern Rogers counties:
In just 16 years, the network of trails has been mostly replaced with a grid of section line roads, new towns have been established, and every few miles there's a school. Note the electric railway linking Bartlesville, Tuxedo, and Dewey.
More amazement at the PCL online archive:
1:250,000 USGS maps, including Tulsa maps from 1947 and 1967, covering all of Oklahoma northeast of Jenks. Note that the 1947 city map of Tulsa shows the Tulsa County Fairgrounds within the Tulsa city limits. The 1947 topo map shows the Union Electric Railway connecting Nowata and Coffeyville.
McGraw Electric Railway Manual Maps, 1913: Streetcar maps from nearly everywhere except Oklahoma, including Joplin, Little Rock, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, and Brooklyn.
Reader Sue Snider was kind enough to send along a bit of letterhead from the Oklahoma Hotel, something she found while sorting through things after a move.
R. E. DRENNAN, PROPRIETOR
MODERN IN EVERY PARTICULAR
COURTESY AND SERVICE
There's no address on it, but it may be the "New Oklahoma Hotel" identified on the 1939 and 1962 Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps on the southeast corner of 2nd and Cincinnati, on the second and third floors, above the Oklahoma Tire and Supply Company (better known to Sooner boomers as OTASCO). This is the northwest corner of Block 107 of Tulsa's original townsite. Thanks to reader Mark Sanders, we know that the 1947 Polk City Directory lists the New Oklahoma Hotel at this location. The 1957 Polk directory doesn't show a hotel at that location, so Ms. Snider's estimate of a date in the 1940s is probably accurate.
In 1960, it was the most populous downtown block with 199 residents. Today it's a surface parking lot serving the Performing Arts Center and Tulsa's new City Hall.
I haven't been able to find out anything about proprietor R. E. Drennan, but I see a few current Tulsa listings for the Drennan name, so perhaps there's a connection.
This sort of thing never happens, right? Never, ever would a secretive group of private business leaders direct the redevelopment decisions of public agencies from behind the scenes. And if they did, well, we just have to trust that these business leaders know far more about urban development than the unwashed masses, as is readily apparent by the wealth they accumulated in completely unrelated fields of endeavor, right? We just have to trust that they have the best interests of the city at heart.
The OKC History Blog has an entry about a group of Oklahoma City business executives called Metro Action Planners and their efforts (of questionable legality) in the late 1970s to implement architect I. M. Pei's plan for downtown redevelopment. The story begins with Pei's return visit in 1976:
His summons to appear came from a new, informal group of downtown Oklahoma City business leaders assembled by the Chamber of Commerce to expedite implementation of his plans for the area.
The group - Metro Action Planners - was led by Southwestern Bell President John Parsons. The group had no office, no phone number, and no mailing list. And no vice presidents or directors were allowed.
Its membership was limited to CEOs, presidents and downtown property owners, and those who belonged included Charles Vose, president of First National Bank and Edward L. Gaylord, publisher of The Daily Oklahoman.
Behind the scenes, the group picked which retail developer would get a shot at building a planned indoor shopping mall:
In April , the Urban Renewal Authority sought new proposals and got them from a local man, Bill Peterson, Dallas-based developer Vincent Carrozza, who estimated he could get the project done in six to 10 years, another outside developer, Starrett-Landmark, and Cadillac Fairview. (5)
While Carrozza, in particular, had no doubts about his project's future success, Cadillac Fairview's proposal was much more reserved in that regard.
The latter's proposal cautioned that there was "absolutely no certainty at this time that sufficient department store interest can be committed to ensure that the major Galleria retail can proceed in the near future."
But, Carrozza enchanted Metro Action Planners. The group, in fact, committed itself to raise $1.6 million needed to create a limited partnership with the developer to get the project going.
Before the end of April, 1978, Carrozza had his deal with local leaders.
Then everything unraveled when the developer asked for a favor from an official who, evidently, wasn't part of the in-crowd:
Oklahoma's attorney general launched a probe in August of 1980 to determine whether Carrozza, urban renewal and Metro Action Planners had restrained trade by creating an informal building moratorium downtown to enhance possibilities that the Galleria project would be successful.
The Metro Action Planners, it had turned out, had approved a moratorium on downtown building in October 1978. The following year, Carrozza had contacted an Urban Renewal commissioner, asking him to seek a second moratorium from the group. At the time, Carrozza was finding it difficult to find financing for a second office tower he was building on the Galleria site.
The commissioner - Stanton L. Young - declined to carry out Carrozza's request, and was not implicated of any wrong-doing.
Neither, curiously, was anyone else.
But while the attorney general's investigation went nowhere, the damage to this super-powerful group of downtown leaders had been done.
Metro Action Planners abruptly disappeared from the downtown redevelopment scene.
So much for corporate commitment to the free market. This shadowy group choked off downtown development to clear the path for their favored developer, who (by the way) never completed his project. The land -- most of a 2 x 2 superblock -- continues to sit mostly empty. The new downtown library was built on the northwest corner of the site.
But I'm sure this situation was peculiar to Oklahoma City, and powerful, private groups have never steered the actions of Tulsa's urban renewal agency, and if they did, I'm sure it was for our own good.
Some time ago, I wrote a blog post urging the stewards of the Beryl Ford Collection to post the collection on Flickr, so as to invite public participation in collecting data about people, places, and times depicted in photos and ephemera from Tulsa history. A couple of months later, I learned that Flickr has a special program specifically for archives like the Beryl Ford Collection. It's called Flickr Commons, and it's being used by the likes of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and national archives in the US, UK, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Scotland, and Texas.
Smaller institutions are participating as well: The Bergen Public Library, the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest, and the Upper Arlington (Ohio) History collection. Tulsa's Beryl Ford Collection would fit right in.
The institutions are participating in Flickr Commons to make their collections more widely available and to extend their ability to identify what they have, using Flickr's built-in tools to collect comments, notes, and geographical and chronological metadata about each photo.
The key goals of The Commons on Flickr are to firstly show you hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives, and secondly to show how your input and knowledge can help make these collections even richer.
Today I found a great example of how this works. The Smithsonian Institution is publishing a series of photos called "Women in Science." One of the photos is of Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin. The photo's description:
The Flickr community is invited to assist in the identification of Ms. Goodwin.
And so they have. Within a month or so, someone found her 1924 wedding announcement in the Washington Post's online archives. A mention of her high school and age led to her photo in the Central High School yearbook, and later obituaries for her father and husband turned up. Recently, her granddaughter came across the photo and provided more information about Elizabeth Sabin Goodwin, and why this artist would have been included in the Science Service's collection -- she was an illustrator for a science magazine.
More here about E. S. Goodwin on indicommons, a blog devoted to interesting finds in The Commons on Flickr.
Here's another example of Web 2.0 collaboration to identify historic photos: Amateur history detectives discovered that the surname of this woman of science had been mis-transcribed from handwriting -- "Gans" was misread as "Gaus."
Indicommons brings together photos of the 1893 Chicago World's Fair from various Commons collections. There's a Google Earth overlay of Columbian Exposition photos, too.
The Texas State Archives debuts with architectural drawings of state park facilities built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s.
Yesterday, I took part of the afternoon off and took our three kids to the Tulsa Historical Society in Woodward Park. It was our first visit as a family, and we all enjoyed it immensely.
The "carrot" to get us in the door was a special Spring Break promotion for families -- complete a History Detective Scavenger Hunt and win a 2010 Tulsa Historical Society membership. (I learned about the promotion via their @TulsaHistory account on Twitter.)
The scavenger hunt involved finding answers to questions in the museum's exhibits -- Tulsa in the 1940s, Seidenbach's Department Store, Zebco, lost movie palaces, construction photos of historic buildings. We only had an hour and were about to finish well within that time, but we could easily have spent much more time exploring. I understand that the Seidenbach's exhibit is about to close, so if you're interested in the history of ladies' fashion and retail, you'll want to visit very soon. (An exhibit on Tulsa baseball opens in April.)
THS does a great job of exhibiting its historic photographs and artifacts, both in making them easy to view and in providing context for appreciating their significance. I loved the megasized prints of aerial and streetscape photographs in the '40s exhibit -- it made it easy to show my kids the places they know and the places that are long gone. (Comment from the 13-year-old on the '40s streetscape photos: "I wish downtown still looked like that." Comment from the 9-year-old on color photos of the Akdar Theater / Cimarron Ballroom: "They tore that down for parking? Were they blind?")
When we turned in our completed scavenger hunt paper, we were signed up for our membership, and the kids were given a copy of Tulsa History A to Z, a book filled with photos and interesting stories of Tulsa's past.
As THS closed for the day, we went back to the car to retrieve scooters and a bicycle then walked across the parking lot to the Tulsa Arboretum. The collection of trees is ringed by a paved path that was just right for our 4-year-old and his Lightning McQueen bike. As we circled the park, he had us stop at every brass nameplate so I could tell him the English and Latin names of each tree.
The Tulsa Historical Society is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free!
MORE: Become a fan of Tulsa Historical Society on Facebook to see daily historic photos and trivia questions and news about THS events and exhibits.
James Howard Kunstler, the author of provocative books on urban design, architecture, and the economy (The Geography of Nowhere, The Long Emergency, World Made by Hand), has named the new building for Clinton Middle School, on W. 41st St. in Tulsa's Red Fork neighborhood, as his "Eyesore of the Month":
Presenting the new Clinton Middle School, Tulsa, Oklahoma -- a building that expresses to perfection our current social consensus about the meaning of education.
Read for yourself his description of the new building, accompanied by photos, and scroll to the bottom of the page to click through his list of previous Eyesores of the Month. It's harsh but fair.
(Be aware that, although he doesn't have any rude words on that particular page, Kunstler is fairly free with expletives on other pages on the site.)
On his Historic Tulsa blog, Bill Miller has photos of the old Clinton Middle School as the demolition process was underway. Even in its final hours, the old school retained its dignity. There's a pre-demolition close-up picture of the main entry on the Webster High School class of '76 website. A Facebook group called "I went to the ORIGINAL Clinton Middle School" has a collection of photos from the final tour of the old Clinton Middle School.
It's always a surprise to get a comment on an old post, usually a pleasant one.
Over the last 24 hours, two old blog entries have received comments.
The first, from Lisa S. of Joshua, Texas, was posted to my July 2008 entry about a visit to the pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas. Last week, she and her dad were heading back home from visiting the town of Paint Rock and decided to follow the signs to the pictographs. I guess she was looking on the web for more info, came across my writeup, and was kind enough to report her own wonderful tour of the pictographs.
The second, from Howard Giles, posted from an Albuquerque, N.M., IP address, complains bitterly about my May 2009 entry on a 1981 Downtown Tulsa Unlimited plan for redeveloping what we now call Brady Arts District (or, better, the Bob Wills District). I had quoted from an April 7, 1981, Tulsa World business news story on the plan, which included extensive quotes from planner John Lauder of Urban Design Group. Mr. Giles thinks I should have done further research -- actually sought out a copy of the plan -- before writing anything about it. I replied: "It's not meant to be a finished piece of research, just a snippet of information I thought deserving of wider exposure. I let my readers know the source of the information and where it could be found so that an interested reader could do further research on his own." In my reply, I invited Mr. Giles to share any specific information he has about the 1981 plan.
Apropos the recent story on high water usage, here are a couple of public service announcements on water conservation featuring Gailard Sartain:
Check out the Tulsa TV Memories YouTube channel for more glimpses into Tulsa broadcasting history, including several more clips from KGCT 41, the short-lived attempt at news-talk TV on downtown Tulsa's Main Mall.
Amanda DeCort of the Tulsa Preservation Commission has a blog entry today about a blog devoted to paintings of Tulsa's buildings and streetscapes:
Local artist Celeste Vaught is on a mission to paint as many of Tulsa's fantastic historic buildings as she can. You can check out her "Brick X Brick" series by visiting her blog, http://celestevaughtart.blogspot.com/. Vaught's striking paintings have captured everything from the Atlas Life Building to the Phoenix Dry Cleaners.
In her "About the Artist" blurb, Vaught writes:
"How did you go from painting flowers and still life to painting buildings?" you might be wondering. As I was driving around Tulsa, I noticed, of all things, how many really neat old apartment buildings we have. It was Eugene Apartments, a striking white deco complex that began this journey of painting Tulsa architecture. I discovered a real passion for capturing the beauty of these structures. Tulsa is one of the best places in the world to see Art Deco Architecture. It's my goal to paint as many interesting Tulsa buildings before they disappear. I'll try to share a little history and some of the thinking/methods behind my paintings. For Tulsa natives, I hope you'll identify with each of the paintings and for those unfamiliar with our lovely city, may you be encouraged to visit soon!
A typical Vaught blog entries includes one of her paintings, the history of the featured buildings, and information on the composition and technique involved in capturing that moment and turning it into a piece of art.
The example above highlights the sign on the Atlas Life Building. Click the link to go to her blog entry and a larger image of the painting.
In response to a thread at TulsaNow's public forum, here is a map showing the routes of Tulsa's three streetcar/interurban lines: Red is the Tulsa Street Railway, blue is Oklahoma Union Traction, and green is the Sand Springs Railway. The latter two lines had interurban routes to Sapulpa and Kiefer and to Sand Springs respectively, and the interurban tracks continue to provide diesel freight service. OUT is now known as the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union Railroad. Click the picture to see a much bigger version.
To make it easier to explore the routes, here is a Tulsa streetcars and interurbans KMZ file, for use with Google Maps and Google Earth.
The routes are largely based on maps and text in the book When Oklahoma Took the Trolley, as well as some documents from City of Tulsa archives. If you have any corrections or questions, please leave a comment below or drop a line to me at blog at batesline dot com.
UPDATE: I counted 14 discrete suggestions. The number 11 was selected from a range of 1 to 14 by the random number generator at RANDOM.ORG. And the winner is... Adam, who nominated "C is for the Center of the Universe." Thanks to all for the excellent ideas, which induced a powerful combination of nostalgia and appetite.
A week ago I told you about Jack Frank's latest DVD, Tulsa A to Z, a collection of 26 fascinating pieces of Tulsa lore from the Admiral Twin drive-in to John Zink and his race cars.
I finally had the chance to watch the entire thing, including the wonderful extras -- material that didn't fit in the main presentation but was worth including in some way. If you've missed those QuikTrip commercials from the late '70s with Ben Jones and Lamar the sheepdog, you'll find them here, along with a couple of even older Quik-Trip commercials celebrating the Koolie. There's also some sad but sweet home movie footage of a visit by Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier to Nelson's Buffeteria in 1993.
Jack has generously provided BatesLine with a copy of Tulsa A to Z for a contest giveaway. So here's the deal: To enter the contest, post a comment on this entry with your nomination for a future edition of Tulsa A to Z. For example, "Y is for Yahola, the big lake at Mohawk Park." Or, "Z is for Mr. Zing and Tuffy."
Now, it's going to be impossible for me to pick the best idea from what I'm sure will be a wealth of great suggestions, so I'm going to pick a random entry of those submitted before the deadline of 11:59:59 p.m. CST, Monday, December 7, 2009. Multiple entries are OK, but don't go overboard. (Too many comments from one IP address, and you're likely to get auto-flagged as spam.) Profanity or vulgarity will get your entry excluded and your IP banned. Please keep it positive, in the realm of something Jack might actually use on a future show. I reserve the right to exclude an entry if (in my opinion) it doesn't include a suggestion that meets these criteria. The decision of the judge (me) is final.
All submissions (and ideas contained therein) become my property, and I hereby grant Jack Frank and Tulsa Films license to use the submitted ideas in future productions. In order to win, you must include a valid e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you win, and you must be willing to provide a valid mailing address so I can send you the prize. (Please don't post your mailing address with your entry. I'll get it from you later if you're the winner.) Your submission constitutes your agreement to the rules of this contest.
MORE: Ida Red, Brookside's rock'n'roll boutique, will be screening Tulsa A to Z at an open house this Thursday evening, December 10, 2009, 5:30 - 8:30 pm, celebrating their new location at 3336 S. Peoria Ave. (just a few doors down from the old place).
Come check out our new location, our new items while shopping with a glass of wine and some holiday treats!
Jack Frank will be with us to talk about and sign his new DVD! Talk about an amazing Holiday Gift! We will be viewing his DVD BIG on our projector!
We will also have the music of the Red Dirt Rangers!
The party will last from 5:30-8:30! Don't want to miss this great combination of fun!
There's an exciting article in the latest Urban Tulsa Weekly about an effort by my friends Justin and Leah Pickard to establish a small neighborhood grocery in the Brady Heights neighborhood in a 1920s building on Latimer between Cheyenne and Denver Aves. (So strictly speaking, it's not on a corner.)
Pickard described herself and her husband as community activists and Christians who are interested in a number of social issues, including the inaccessibility of affordable, healthy food for many north Tulsans and the lack of affordable home ownership options for those in low-income areas. The opportunity to open a corner market offering fresh, nutritious food was one they simply couldn't pass up, she said.
Pickard said she and her husband were educated about many of the problems facing north Tulsa by neighborhood activist Demalda Newsome of the North Tulsa Farmers Market. She said they are opening the market to help resolve some of those issues and not because they consider it a good economic opportunity.
"Oh, definitely--we're keeping our day jobs," she said. "I'm actually a stay-at-home mom most of the time, and (the store) is right around the corner from our house, so it'll be easy to get over there. But we'll be hiring people to work there because we wanted to create jobs. We wanted to have the opportunity to create employment."...
"We're going to offer healthy food, lots of organic food and lots of local stuff," Pickard said. "We're going to stay away from unhealthy food. If a (convenience store) carries it, we won't. In fact, there's one at Pine and Cincinnati near here. If people want junk food, they can go there."
Pickard said the building has two storefronts, and they will be leasing space to a neighbor who wants to open a coffeehouse on one side.
"She's ready to go," she said.
Pickard said she and her husband also are working with NTEDI to establish a distribution warehouse available to small, independent markets, so the owners can band together and place their orders from wholesalers in bulk, passing the savings along to customers. That will help make fresh, wholesome food affordable to all, she believes.
Justin's brother and sister-in-law, Nathan and Kristin Pickard, are also very active residents of Brady Heights. Nathan recently served as president of the neighborhood association, both Nathan and Kristin serve on the board, and they host occasional house concerts for musicians passing through Tulsa.
The Pickards are a wonderful family, and I know they will put a lot of sweat equity and a lot of love into this project, as they already have in the Brady Heights neighborhood. It will be exciting to see this project come to fruition.
Tonight (November 30, 2009) also brings another fascinating glimpse of Tulsa's past to the Circle Cinema in Whittier Square, Admiral Blvd. and Lewis Ave.:
RadioTU presents a screening of "Going to College", a film about life at The University of Tulsa in the forties, on Monday, November 30 at 7:00 pm at the Circle Cinema. The voice of Dr. Ben Henneke is heard as a high school couple visits classrooms, campus facilities, and Greek houses as they looked sixty years ago. Shuttles will depart from the south side of ACAC for the Circle, located at 3rd and Lewis, beginning at 6:30 pm. For more information, call the Circle Cinema at 585-3456.
Admission is free, and the event is open to the community.
The screening is sponsored by The Office of the President of the University of Tulsa, Public Radio Tulsa (KWGS / KWTU), and radioTU (student radio station at TU). The Circle Cinema Foundation was kind enough to donate the space at the Circle Cinema for the event.
Photo of TU's Kendall Hall, 1950, from the Beryl Ford Collection.
Tonight at 7:30 on KOTV is a half-hour preview of the latest from Jack Frank's wonderful Tulsa Films series: "Tulsa A to Z." Each letter of the alphabet provides a jumping-off point for explaining a fascinating, often obscure aspect of Tulsa history and culture. The broadcast will air on OETA's statewide network Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Jack sent me a preview copy of the DVD last week. My favorite letter so far: "X is for Xanthus," which is not only about this particular oddly named avenue, but Tulsa's street naming system in general. I was also fascinated to learn about a collection of historic photos owned by Mayor-elect Dewey Bartlett Jr. Famed Tulsa eateries like White River Fish Market, Knotty Pine BBQ, Nelson's Buffeteria, and J.J.'s Gourmet Burgers all earn a place in the alphabet, and so do entertainment venues like the Admiral Twin drive-in and the Spotlight Theatre's long-running production of The Drunkard.
The DVD arrives just in time for Christmas, and you can find it at Steve's Sundry, Dwelling Spaces, SpiritBank, QuikTrip, and Borders, and online at tulsafilms.com.
Here's a preview:
Pastor J. H. Dotson during the construction of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. The photos appear to show the remnant of the ruins of the 1921 structure, which had been roofed in 1937 and was being used for worship, being incorporated into the new structure, c. 1948. Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.
I was looking for something (the National Park Service's "1921 Tulsa Race Riot Reconnaissance Survey," a 2005 publication that identified sites of importance related to the riot, which used to be on the web, but is no longer).
I found something else: Mt. Zion Baptist Church's registration form for the National Register of Historic Places. The application was written in April 2008 by Cathy Ambler, Ph.D., a preservation consultant based in Tulsa.
The application, accompanied by maps and photos, both current and historical, tells the story of Greenwood before, during, and after the riot through the story of Mt. Zion. The church's brand new edifice, dedicated in April 1921, was destroyed on June 1, 1921. The membership met in members homes and, later, in a roofed section of the building's ruins until they raised enough money to pay off the debt from the destroyed building and to build a new structure, which was not complete until 1952.
The document is worth reading for a synopsis of the story of Greenwood from its earliest days, through riot, rebuilding, and urban removal, and as a tribute to the indomitable spirit of the members of Mt. Zion.
Two weeks after the riot, Walter F. White, a reporter for The Nation published an on-the-scene report of the causes, its aftermath, and the corrupt and lawless state of Tulsa in 1921.
I was googling for a restaurant sign in an old photo of Bob Wills' tour bus, the restaurant turned out to be the Old Tascosa in Amarillo's Herring Hotel. The Herring Hotel, like Tulsa's Mayo and Oklahoma City's Skirvin, is still standing but has been closed for over 30 years, waiting for someone to bring it back to life.
My search led me to this wonderful page of Amarillo postcards, photos, and news clippings, mainly from the 1960s. I've never been to Amarillo, but the pictures still managed to inspire some nostalgia, as I saw a number of places that were familiar from Tulsa's past. For example:
- A Zuider Zee Restaurant -- Tulsa had one on the north service road of I-44, east of Memorial Drive.
- Woolco, a department store that would anchor Amarillo's Western Plaza Mall in 1967, just like Tulsa's Woolco at the western end of Southroads Mall, two years later.
- A Shamrock gas station (before the shamrock leaves became diamonds)
- A Ramada Inn neon sign, with the innkeeper and his horn -- Tulsa's was on the south I-44 service road, west of Yale
- T. G. & Y. (5¢ TO $1.00)
- Furr's -- here it's always been a cafeteria; in Amarillo it was a grocery chain
- A neocolonial Borden Milk plant, just like the one that used to stand on the southwest corner of 51st and Garnett
- Plenty of roadside hotel chains along Route 66 -- Howard Johnson and Holiday Inn
- Local motels with cool mid-century architecture and neon
- Restaurants with Japanese-style architecture and faux Chinese food -- chop suey and chow mein -- like Tulsa's Pagoda
Here's another page of Amarillo pix with
- a downtown much like ours once was
- drive-in theaters and drive-in restaurants, including a Griff's Burger Bar (ours was on 21st up the hill from Sheridan)
- a streamline deco bus depot
- a downtown building with a lighted tower that showed the weather forecast
- a Downtowner Motor Inn -- ours is still standing at 4th and Cheyenne
- Polk Street -- the main drag -- all lit up at night
I spent the last half of last week and all weekend at home dealing with a particularly nasty virus, and in the process missed a family gathering in Arkansas and what must have been an interesting political discussion. To compensate for the abnormal quiet in the house, I had the TV going all night, with the History Channel running endless repeats of an interesting two-hour documentary on the JFK assassination. I caught bits and pieces of it every time a coughing fit woke me up.
So nothing new from me, but here are some recent Tulsa blog entries of interest:
Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton has the memo from Mayor Kathy Taylor announcing that September sales tax revenue is $1.2 million below her budget projections with this comment:
The numbers vindicate Councilor Bill Martinson's prediction that the Mayor's numbers were overly optimistic and would leave the incoming mayor and council with difficult budget choices.
Eagleton also was quoted in a story on the city's budget problems in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, reminding of his spurned efforts in earlier years to rein in spending increases to core inflation:
In 2006, he said, the economy was good, and sales tax receipts were high.
"And we spent every penny we earned," he said. "We gave raises all around that are now baked into the cake. So, it becomes harder and harder every time, with each budget cycle downturn, to meet our budget."
Eagleton favors a budget process based on the core inflation rate that sets aside revenue for the inevitable downturns of the future. Some smaller sacrifices today can help the city avoid having to make what he calls the "Draconian cuts" required in the current budget.
"If we had done that in 2007 and 2008, yes, we would still have to trim the edges, but we wouldn't have the eight furlough days we did have," he said.
Despite Tulsa's budget crisis, Meeciteewurkor reports that some city workers in the Human Resources Department may have received $2500 bonuses for "superb" participation in a city-run training program. The head of the local municipal employees' union says the interim HR director verbally confirmed that the "stipends" were paid and has submitted an open records request seeking written confirmation.
Fear an Iarthair offers some thoughts on Bible translations and reminds that the original preface to the King James Version "advised the reader to read the Scriptures in several translations."
Historic Tulsa has an entry on the Dawson schoolhouse, built in 1908, one of the few (perhaps only) Romanesque structures remaining in Tulsa.
PR consultant Mandy Vavrinak is now blogging on public relations for the Journal Record. According to a press release announcing the blog:
Vavrinak will anchor the newly-launched PR blog, dubbed "Public Relations > Beyond The Press Release" and will focus on the reality of good public relations.
"I want to share solid how-to info for businesses as well as stories from the trenches, good examples and bad examples, and also be a resource for PR information," Vavrinak said. The PR blog will feature contributions from other area PR pros as well, including Kristen Turley, an active member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). New posts will be appearing weekly, and comments are encouraged.
Finally, please keep Brandon Dutcher's newborn daughter Anne Marie in your prayers (and her parents, siblings, and doctors, too).
If 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.
MeeCiteeWurkor looks at a traffic fatality that killed a bicyclist. The trail led to the Sinclair refinery parking lot and the question: Does Sinclair Hire Illegal Aliens?
Yogi gives a panhandler his lunch and ponders whether shelters and soup kitchens are enablers rather than true helps: Yogi's Den: A Homeless Guy, Leviticus 23:22, and my Lunch
Tasha suggests several more ways to get to know Tulsa, including Twitter and parenthood.
Emily was given a lovely 1946 linen postcard of Tulsa's Webster High School.
Freedom of Information Oklahoma has some interesting stories:
- Does the Open Meeting Act permit a school board to meet 80 miles outside its district?
- Okmulgee officials charged with violating Open Meeting Act
- Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) should be treated as a state agency under Open Meeting and Open Records Acts
- Open Government Pledge signers advance to general elections for Tulsa municipal offices and House District 55 seat
Remember Marc Sherman, who was a midday talk show host on KRMG? He has a blog: Marc's True NewsJason Kearney considers the case of a Tulsa youth pastor on "The Biggest Loser" and asks Is It a Sin To Be Fat? (And congrats to Jason on his third blogiversary.)
Here it is:
Here are some previous entries on BatesLine that touch on Greenwood and include some of the material I shared at Ignite Tulsa.
streetcar: The Sand Springs Railroad (includes photos)
Sometime soon, I will post the slides with a recorded narration, closer to the way I would have delivered the talk had I taken more time to rehearse and memorize. (No excuse, but I returned from a business trip just 90 minutes before the event was scheduled to begin. I waited far too long to get my slides together, and I should have taken time to write a narration and to revise my slides before submitting them. It takes a lot of work to say something in five minutes.)
I encourage you to watch all of the excellent Ignite Tulsa presentations. (I plan to do so; I was too distracted before my talk to absorb as much as I should have, and shortly after I finished, I was notified that I was needed at home.) My thanks to the organizers for bringing this idea to Tulsa and making the inaugural event such a success.
Goodbye Tulsa has a remembrance of Betsy Horowitz by her son Andrew. Betsy Horowitz was a Maple Ridge neighborhood activist who was part of the successful fight to stop construction of the Riverside Expressway through her neighborhood in the 1970s. She moved to the Dallas area a decade or so ago, and she passed away earlier this year.
I only met Mrs. Horowitz once and that only briefly -- her daughter Jean Ann was a classmate of mine at Holland Hall, and the Horowitz home in Maple Ridge was one of the sites of the Junior-Senior party. But I heard plenty about Betsy during the mid-seventies. It wasn't unusual for one or more Holland Hall parents or alumni to be serving on the City Commission or running for office, and my group of friends paid more attention to politics at every level than was usual for middle school boys. (On my bulletin board through the summer and fall of 1974: The list of candidates for state office from the Tulsa Tribune.)
What I knew about Betsy Horowitz was filtered through the local newspapers and the KRMG morning show. At best, these sources told me, Betsy was a joke, an overweight loudmouth. Her son Andrew mentions that people connected her with feminist Bella Abzug, an outspoken feminist of the day.
At worst, she was a dangerous obstructionist, standing in the path of progress. As a map-obsessed kid, I was all about seeing the dashed "proposed" lines on the map turn into broken, colored "under construction" lines and ultimately into solid, completed freeways. Anyone standing in the way of that was by definition a Bad Person, so it was easy for me to fall in with the conventional view.
I don't know if it was an actual news report or just a silly rumor that she had had her mouth wired shut as part of a liquid diet weight loss plan, but the conventional wisdom was that this was a good thing and wouldn't it be nice if it were permanent. (I'm not the only one who remembers this.)
My other vivid memory of Betsy's political career is her radio ad for one of her mayoral campaigns. A parody of Charlie Rich's crossover country hit, the lyric ran, "Betsy will stop what goes on behind closed doors." The ad communicated a problem that persists today at Tulsa's City Hall -- a hallmark, in fact, of Mayor Taylor's administration -- with deals being done behind the scenes and presented to the public and their representatives as a fait accompli for their ratification.
It's easy now to see that Betsy Horowitz was a valiant defender of neighborhoods against heedless destruction in the name of moving cars around. She and her allies not only stopped a freeway, but they made the renaissance of Maple Ridge possible and gave us the start of Tulsa's extensive trail system.
The Riverside Expressway's route was conceptualized in 1956, but firmly set in 1962. The expressway was planned to follow the Midland Valley Railroad right-of-way from Riverside Drive to the southeast interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. If you want to see the path of the expressway -- where the exits were planned, what buildings would have been sacrificed -- there's an atlas in the Central Library map case:
Comprehensive functional plans for the long range highway needs for Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tulsa metropolitan area expressway system. Prepared under the direction of the Oklahoma State Highway Dept. in cooperation with U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Public Roads.
As you drive the boulevards of Maple Ridge today, it's easy to forget that the district was not always popular and beloved. In the post-war period, Tulsans of every class wanted new, and wealthy Tulsans built homes along the ridge to the south-southeast, toward Southern Hills Country Club. With an expressway planned, Maple Ridge homes could very well have followed the pattern of big, old homes in urban neighborhoods in other cities -- subdivision into apartments and slow decay. Many Maple Ridge homes were badly "wreckovated." It wasn't until the expressway was off the map that the cachet of Maple Ridge began to return.
The Goodbye Tulsa piece links to a Wayne Greene column about Betsy Horowitz in the Tulsa World from 2008 which begins:
Is it safe to say something nice about Betsy Horowitz yet?
She's been gone from Tulsa 11 years now. Has enough time passed that her many enemies -- and many, many friends -- are willing to listen to someone say she was right about at least one thing?
Evidently it takes being dead or at least long gone from Tulsa, and no longer a threat to anyone's big plans, before it's safe to credit a naysayer with being right. The same column points readers to Wayne Greene's blog entry explaining why it's OK to praise Betsy Horowitz's neighborhood activism while damning White City resident's opposition to the Tetched Mahal on the other side of I-244. (I have a feeling I'll get some grief over that epithet, but I think it's a good pun, so it stays.) There are certainly distinctions, but the arguments Greene puts forth in support of the activists who fought the Riverside Expressway would have been torn apart as obstructionist nonsense by his predecessors on the World editorial page.
At root, the White City and the Maple Ridge activists are both about trying to preserve the quality of life in a neighborhood against plans that sacrifice that quality of life for the sake of some presumed greater good. The usual arguments against the neighborhood are that the impact on quality of life won't be as great as the homeowners fear, that the homeowners are selfish for putting their own desires ahead of the needs of the general public, and that the plans have been on file at the "local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now."
I'm reminded of World editorial writer Ken Neal's sendoff to Vince Sposato, a New York-born troublemaker like Betsy Horowitz, an opponent of urban renewal who was actually displaced by an expressway, and a frequent candidate for office. The World's obit states:
His love of politics was born from a love of people, according to his family.
In the 1950s, he championed civil rights and special educational needs. In the 1960s, he fought against urban renewal and the taking of people's homes without just compensation.
In 1974, Sposato found himself fighting for his own home. The city had condemned the property because it was needed for part of the construction of the Inner Dispersal Loop. Sposato eventually lost his fight for the house that he and his wife had owned for 22 years.
At the time, I advised the members of the Reform Alliance on the City Council, who were facing sharp criticism for not rolling over on the issue of suburban water service, not to hold their breath waiting for the approval of the Whirled: "If you want the Whirled to say something nice about you, drop dead."
It's interesting that both Horowitz and Sposato came to Tulsa from New York, where confrontation in politics and in daily life is a given. Tulsa needed, and still needs, dissidents who are willing to be pushy and willing to be called obnoxious. I'm sure they were told numerous times, as I've been told, that they needed to tone it down, work within the system, don't ruffle feathers, don't rub people the wrong way. They probably did try that, and they no doubt learned that playing nice only makes it easier for your cause to be ignored. And when you stand up for something and are persistent, you are going to be called angry, obsessed, rude, etc., even if you are as pleasant as can be. Every "troublemaker" on the City Council started out trying to work within the system, convinced that the previous troublemakers failed by not being nice enough.
A comment on one of the World stories, posted by a sometime commenter here, challenges the significance of Betsy Horowitz's leadership role in stopping the Riverside Expressway. I have no doubt that the legal challenge of which he writes was essential. But politics doesn't stop at the courthouse door, and without Horowitz's willingness to call public attention to the issue and to take a heap of ridicule as her pay, I doubt the court challenge would have been successful. (I would love to know more specifics about the court case.)
In the midst of ragweed season, I should mention one other significant contribution made by the Horowitz family to Tulsa's quality of life: Dr. Leon Horowitz, Betsy's husband, was a founder of the Allergy Clinic of Tulsa.
Wayne Greene wonders when it's safe to praise a naysayer. I'm wondering when it's permissible to fix blame on the individuals and institutions who, time and again, pushed schemes that the naysayers rightly warned against. Why do we never give due credit to those who were right and due blame to those who led us to disaster?
MORE: Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton recalls that in 1968, after he was hit and dragged by a car as he was crossing 21st Street on his walk to Lee School, Betsy Horowitz took up the cause of school crossing safety and school zones. (He heard about this second-hand, as he spent the Summer of Love in a body cast.)
In my Ignite Tulsa talk on the "Greenwood Gap," I mentioned in passing the physical indications of the rebuilding and flourishing of Tulsa's African-American district after it was burned in 1921 by a white mob. I would have included photos of some of those signs, and I had some that I'd taken, but I couldn't find them, so earlier today I took some more, finding dates on buildings, on cornerstones, and on commemorative plaques that tell the story of Greenwood's post-1921 resurgence. (Click that link to view the set on Flickr.)
The churches, and the dates on their cornerstones, beg the question: If there wasn't a rebuilt neighborhood nearby, why were the churches rebuilt there? (Further, why did congregations build newer fancier buildings in the late '50s and early '60s?) (NOTE: In the olden days, churches were built in neighborhoods and people traveled short distances to church. They weren't set up like consumer-oriented big-box stores with huge parking lots, isolated from neighborhoods.)
Here's the Williams Building at 102 N. Greenwood Ave., rebuilt in 1922, after the building previously on that site was destroyed by the riot. Note the year above the name of the building.
After the jump, you'll see the plaque set in the sidewalk next to the building, and two more plaques -- one on the entrance to the Mabel B. Little Heritage House and the other on the entrance to the Greenwood Cultural Center.
Thanks to the organizers, speakers, and audience for last night's Ignite Tulsa event. It was a great experience, and I only wish I could have stayed through the entire program -- family needs called me home shortly after I spoke. I'm happy I had the chance to come back to the afterparty and chat with many very interesting folks. More to say about the total Ignite Tulsa experience later.
Someone asked if the source material for my talk is online. A lot of it is already, in past BatesLine entries. I plan to post links to key articles and go into detail on my sources. For now, if you're impatient, Google Greenwood on this site.
When an OSU professor wrote a response to my 2007 column on the Greenwood gap, challenging the factual basis for what I wrote and my conclusions, I responded by detailing my sources, which may be of interest here (this is the original reply, not the edited version that appeared in the paper):
I'm always pleased to know that someone has given one of my columns a close and critical reading, as OSU Political Science Professor J. S. Maloy has done with my column on the rise and fall of the Greenwood district. This aspect of Tulsa history is important but overlooked, so I welcome his interest. I empathize with his disappointment that so little of Greenwood remains. My column was an attempt to use available evidence to explain why things are the way they are.
The issues he raises deserve a detailed and specific discussion: Which level of government is to blame for Greenwood's second destruction; whether Greenwood was rebuilt after the riot and how the reconstruction was funded; whether local officials in 1921 took a free market approach to rebuilding Greenwood; the role of racism in the city's treatment of Greenwood; and whether the free market is to blame for the lack of progress in Greenwood since urban renewal.
I agree with Maloy that what our city has done to Greenwood is a self-inflicted wound. I should have made it more clear that city officials made the decisions to route I-244 through the heart of Greenwood and to bulldoze most of the rest of it in the name of urban renewal. The Federal Government only supplied the funds to carry out the city's plans.
Prof. Maloy expresses doubt that Greenwood was fully restored following the riot. An examination of the sources I used in researching my column will confirm that it was.
He can read for himself the recorded memories of Greenwood residents contained in the books I cited: Black Wall Street, by Hannibal Johnson, and They Came Searching, by Eddie Faye Gates, both residents of Tulsa and active in the community.
He can visit the mapping department of the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), 201 W. 5th St., Suite 600, and view historical aerial photographs, such as the one from 1951 which ran with my column.
He can go to the 4th floor of Central Library and page through the shelf of Polk City Directories and Cole Cross Reference Directories, dating back to 1911, which list residences and businesses street by street, ordered by house number. With the help of a pre-1960 street map (urban renewal destroyed much of the street grid), he can trace the year-by-year evolution of commercial avenues like Greenwood and Lansing and the district's more residential side streets.
He can explore the Sanborn Fire Maps, which document location, footprint, number of stories, and types of buildings for use in fire insurance risk assessment. They were kept up to date until the early '60s as buildings were built and demolished.
Maps for the entire state are available to cardholders on the Tulsa Library website (http://www.tulsalibrary.org:2048/login?url=http ://sanborn.umi.com).
Select the map set for Tulsa that says 1915-July 1926 (that's a typo -- it's really July 1962), and then take a look at sheets 9, 33, 50, 55, 82, 90, and 91. An earlier map set, dated 1915, will illustrate what Greenwood was like in the years before the riot.
Maloy mentions Tee's Barber Shop, located in one of the handful of Deep Greenwood buildings that were spared from urban renewal. The next time he's there, he should notice the markers in the sidewalk which show where businesses were located before the riot. He'll see that many of the markers contain the words "reopened" and "rebuilt."
If he'll walk to the corner of Greenwood and Archer and look up to the west, he'll see the year "1922" -- a year after the riot -- carved above the name "WILLIAMS BLDG." The plaque in the sidewalk explains that Williams, who also owned the Dreamland Theater across the street, was the first to rebuild all of his properties after the riot.
So if we can agree that Greenwood was fully rebuilt after the riot, the question becomes how.
Maloy is correct that there was very little aid from the government and white charities. It makes it all the more impressive that the African-American community was able to rebuild, but they were determined and they did. African-Americans in other cities raised money to assist Greenwood's reconstruction, and Greenwood's own residents worked, scrimped, saved, provided mutual assistance, and expended sweat equity to rebuild.
Maloy is incorrect in stating that city officials in 1921 took a laissez-faire attitude toward Greenwood. The democratically-elected City Commission of the time tried to use government regulation -- a fire ordinance -- to prevent Greenwood residents from rebuilding. Attorneys from the community challenged the ordinance and won an injunction, clearing the way for reconstruction. (Joe Lockett v. the City of Tulsa -- see pp. 87-88 of Scott Ellsworth's Death in a Promised Land.)
Maloy says that I overlook the role of racism in the history of Greenwood, but I think my references to segregation, racist mobs of white looters, and a city government that wanted to remove blacks to a new district beyond the city limits point clearly enough to the racism behind those actions.
Some urban renewal advocates may well have been motivated by racism, but some proponents were well-intentioned progressive activists trying to bridge the gap between Tulsa's black and white communities. The story of Tulsa's Model Cities program deserves to be explored in depth, and I would welcome the chance to talk to those with first-hand knowledge.
Finally, Prof. Maloy wants to know why the "Do-It-Yourself approach" which worked to rebuild Greenwood after the 1921 riot hasn't worked in the 40 years since urban renewal and the construction of I-244.
It's simple: After 1921, the land remained in private ownership, and the victims of the riot could rebuild what had been burned down.
But in the '60s and '70s, urban renewal took the land out of private ownership. Most of the south end of the district is still owned by some government entity. The urban renewal authority has sold some of the land in the northern part back to private owners, but mainly for residential and industrial development. There is no land available for new commercial development.
For example, if you wanted to rebuild the Holloway Building at 350 N. Greenwood Av. (home, in 1957, to Holloway's Hardware and Appliances, Holloway Dental Laboratory, a doctor's office, and an advertising and painting company), you'd have to fill in a pond, and you'd have to get permission from Prof. Maloy's employer. OSU-Tulsa controls all of Deep Greenwood north of I-244, with the exception of two churches and the City's Greenwood Cultural Center.
The commercial buildings between King and Pine Streets (including the Rex Theater) which faced Greenwood were cleared by urban renewal and replaced with suburban homes facing the side streets, many of which have been turned into cul-de-sacs. Only a few churches, Carver Middle School, the old Public Library (now a Unitarian Church), and a few homes remain from the pre-urban renewal days.
City officials created an industrial park out of the area between the Midland Valley and Santa Fe tracks and south of Pine, which once had been residential and commercial. (It had its own movie theater, the Regal, on Lansing Ave.) Morning Star Baptist Church and Hutcherson YMCA are about the only buildings in that area that survived urban renewal.
There is one part of Deep Greenwood which might yet be redeveloped, south of I-244 and northeast of Archer and Elgin. It is owned by the Tulsa Development Authority (the renamed urban renewal authority). There have been proposals for mixed-use development on that site, but the TDA has yet to approve any of them, to the consternation of many north Tulsa community leaders.
Maloy objects to comparing Greenwood to Cherry Street and Brookside. Contrary to his assumptions, big developers didn't produce the rebirth of those neighborhood commercial districts. Along with the adjoining residential areas they went through a period of decline before their rediscovery and renovation. About 20 years ago, aspiring small business owners looking for a place to operate found cheap and often run-down storefront space in the old buildings along Peoria and 15th Street. If Greenwood had been left standing, it too might have been rediscovered.
Prof. Maloy concludes by saying that "the free market will always indulge racism, ignorance, fear, and sheer pettiness of spirit in the name of profits. Only a democratic process--public investment constrained by public consultation--can do better."
But world history is full of examples of a majority oppressing a minority by means of the power conveyed by democratic processes, often by limiting the minority's ability to own property and to buy and sell freely.
It was a democratically elected (and Democrat-controlled) legislature that created Oklahoma's racist Jim Crow laws. Democratically elected officials abetted the pillaging and burning of Greenwood in 1921 and tried to block its reconstruction.
Private individuals, businesses, and churches rebuilt Greenwood after the riot. A democratically elected city government, using public funds, demolished almost all of it in the name of urban renewal. Admittedly, the democratic process was distorted because city officials at the time were elected on an at-large basis, but nevertheless the tyranny of the majority, not the free market, was at work.
The evidence is there for Prof. Maloy's perusal, if he cares to look.
Michael D. Bates
If you've ever wondered, "Is Michael Bates capable of expressing himself concisely?" you and I will both have a chance to find out tomorrow night, Thursday, September 17, 2009, at Ignite Tulsa. The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Blue Dome Diner, at 313 E. 2nd St., between Detroit and Elgin Aves. Admission is free, but Répondez, S'il Vous Plait.
Ignite Tulsa is a series of five-minute presentations on a variety of topics. Each speaker will have a slideshow with 20 slides, automatically advancing at 15 second intervals. Here's the list of presenters and topics (alphabetically by presenter's last name):
- Be Nice. Don't be Rude or Sad by Chris Barton
- The Greenwood Gap: Mythbusting pop history with contemporary documents by Michael Bates
- How Not to be Waldo: Brands that Stand Out in a Crowd by Emily Campbell
- Salvation in the Stacks: Tips, Rants, and a Patriotic Finale from a "Librarian 2.0" by Sarah Clark
- If someone gives you roses you should be pissed off by Matthew Galloway
- Visual Thinking: Boost Your Creative IQ by Sean Griffin
- P2P Anti-Piracy: A Skunk Works History given by Dr. John Hale
- Fighting Global Warming with Green Building by Craig Immel
- Why Truth is Overrated by Jeff Martin
- Top Ten Venture Capital Lies by William Paiva
- The iPhone & Future of Art & VisCom In Tulsa by Ray Pearcey
- Get your Head in the Cloud: Creating a lean organization by leveraging cloud computing by Nathan Phelps
- How to tell your boss to %@$# Off! by Scott Phillips
- Challenging Yourself by Geoffrey Thomas Simpson
- The United Linen Story - how to market a 20th century company in the 21st century by Scott Townsend
- Keeping Up with the Online Joneses by Brad Vernon
- Brain Research in Tulsa by William R. Yates, MD
I'll be talking about the post-1921 history of Greenwood and the sources of information that can debunk historical myths and tell us about the mostly-vanished African-American city-within-a-city. (I covered this topic in my June 13, 2007, column, "The Rise and Fall of Greenwood," but there will be some new angles and info in Thursday's talk.)
TulsaGal has been posting scans of past Tulsa ephemera on her blog. The latest scan is of a little 16-page magazine called This Week in Tulsa, December 31, 1948 edition. Recently she posted a copy of the competing magazine, The Downtowner, from March 19, 1948. The magazines had ads for nightlife, restaurants, theaters, and more mundane retailers. Where possible, she's ferreted out photos from the Beryl Ford Collection of the places that advertised in the two magazines.
As an interesting point of comparison, Iowahawk has scans of a similar, but much racier, 16-pager serving the Chicago convention business: The April 3, 1959, edition of Night Life in Chicago.
MORE FUN TULSA EPHEMERA: Irritated Tulsan has a promotional flyer for Scene2News from the 1970s, handed out at the Tulsa State Fair, featuring Jack Morris, Jerry Webber, and John Hudson. When I see a clock that shows 10 pm, sometimes there's a voice that booms out in my head, "IT'S TEN O'CLOCK! JACK MORRIS NEWS TIME!"
Links of interest from around Tulsa and nearby:
Jim Hartz went exploring around the old KOME studios at 8th and Main and took some photos. KOME 1300 was one of Tulsa's five AM stations back in the '50s, and in 1958 it was the station that sent Rocky Frisco, then known as Rocky Curtiss, on a bike ride to Ft. Hood, Texas, to interview Elvis Presley, who was going through Army basic training at the time.
Speaking of Rocky Frisco, he is a candidate for Tulsa City Council District 4 and in September will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Here's a very interesting biographical interview with Rocky -- a bit of music, a bit of local history, a bit of politics.)
Natasha Ball went to the Ottawa County Fair and has written a letter of complaint.
Tyson and Jeane Wynn are moving their business, Wynn-Wynn Media, from Claremore back to their hometown of Welch, in Craig County. They've located in a storefront on Main Street. The relocation allows them to be closer to Jeane's parents. It's made possible by the spread of high-speed internet to rural America, so they can pursue their line of work (working with Christian authors) as well from Welch as from anywhere else. (Some of my ancestors -- the Newmans -- spent some time in the vicinity of Welch, and my great-grandparents, Carl Everett and Icy Newman Bates, are buried in the cemetery west of town.)
Jeff Shaw has pulled ahead of me in the race to retroblog our vacations. He's up to day four in San Antonio. (I'm still stuck at 5 pm on day 3.)
NMcruiserchick worked for the Peaches Records and Tapes store at 52nd and Sheridan back in 1979-1982, and she has lots of photos to prove it.
David Schuttler notes a survey showing that many airports are concerning themselves with their impact on areas beyond the 65 dB noise level zone. Is Tulsa, he wonders? And David has some beautiful lightning pictures from last week.
Steven Roemerman has some new lyrics with which to scratch the cognitive itch (aka "earworm") known as "Girl from Ipanema."
Be sure to visit Historic Tulsa for more photos and stories of our city's wonderful collection historic buildings.
Some Tulsa State Fair history: Chris Miyata has posted a set of photos and scans of the Tulsa County Fairgrounds in the mid-1960s. There are photos of the IPE Building (now the QuikTrip Center) at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds and scans from a 1964 booklet highlighting 15 years of improvements to the Tulsa State Fair. The highlight is a stunning aerial color photo of the IPE Building near completion, with a very small Bell's Amusement Park to the west. Look for the Bell's giant globe, the water towers, and the KELi satellite.
NOTE: The Down on Main Street festival was originally scheduled for May but was rained out, and it's been rescheduled for this Saturday.
This coming Saturday (August 8, 2009) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., old downtown Red Fork will be home to a "Down on Main Street" festival. Red Fork was a separate town once upon a time, annexed into the City of Tulsa circa 1927. It's now home to the first "Main Street" program within the City of Tulsa.
Oklahoma has had an active and successful Main Street program for many years, encouraging restoration of historic buildings and the commercial revitalization of dozens of small-town downtowns across the state.
The Main Street program is not just for small towns. Oklahoma City has four active Main Street programs: Stockyards City, Capitol Hill, Plaza District, and Eastside Capitol Gateway; Automobile Alley used to be on the list, too. When I asked City of Tulsa officials back in the late '90s about starting it up here, the responses were oddly reluctant, as if such a thing might get in the way of tearing buildings down.
At long last, two years ago, Red Fork became the first Main Street program in the city, with hopes of bringing Southwest Blvd -- old Route 66 -- back to life. The Down on Main Street festival is part of the program to promote the area and bring the community together. From the festival flier, here are the events planned:
- Pie contest
- Ollie's Restaurant's Blue Plate Special
- Live music
- Global Garden's Kids' Zone
- Art show
- Farmers market with a Westside charm
The festival will take place along Southwest Blvd. near 41st St. Parking and Shuttles will be available at Webster High School, 1919 West 40th Street., and OSU Women's Center, 2345 Southwest Blvd.
The deadline to enter the pie contest is TODAY (August 3, 2009). You must have your entry form and a $5 fee to the Red Fork Main Street office, 3708 Southwest Blvd, by 5 p.m. Click here for a form and more details.
Here's hoping for good weather for Saturday's Down on Main Street festival.
Bill Miller has launched a blog devoted to the history of Tulsa and, in particular, to the history of Tulsa's buildings.
Most of the entries on the Historic Tulsa blog are about a particular building -- some well-known (Riverside Studio / Spotlight Theater), but many that are obscure (e.g., the William D. Whenthoff residence, a streamline Art Deco design by Joseph Koberling on College Ave. south of 11th Street).
If you're into Tulsa history, you'll want to add Historic Tulsa blog to your feed reader.
bobwills.com, the official Bob Wills website, has launched a podcast called Bob Wills Radio, hosted by Jim Goff. Each episode features music and excerpts from interviews with members of the Texas Playboys. New episodes will go up each Monday at noon.
The inaugural edition features a 1983 interview with steel guitar legend Leon McAuliffe. Leon talks about how he came to play steel guitar, how he became a part of the Texas Playboys back in 1935, his friendship with Tex Beneke, and the beginnings of his band in Tulsa after World War II. His first band was a horn-dominated swing band, designed to set him apart from the western swing bands around. After touring the local dance circuit, Leon found that the audiences expected him to play western swing, so he canned the horns, hired some fiddle players, and switched back to western swing. (Harlequin Records has a disc of the big band version of Leon McAuliffe's band, from 1946-8.)
Toward the end of the podcast, there's a version of "T-U-L-S-A Straight Ahead," sung by Leon and backed by the Original Texas Playboys, the band made up of Bob Wills sidemen that performed from the mid-70s to the mid-80s. (For some reason, recordings of the Original Texas Playboys are really hard to find.)
Also on the bobwills.com website, you can purchase for download a 36-minute interview with Bob Wills recorded in 1949. Before you buy, you can hear a three-minute excerpt in which Bob Wills talks about their first dances at Cain's Ballroom, what kind of music you'd hear at Cain's before the Texas Playboys took up residence, and why they had to buy Cain's from Mr. & Mrs. Cain. (They started out at the Playmor, NW corner of 2nd and Madison, a second-floor dance hall -- retail below -- about half the size of Cain's.)
A browser crash took out a bunch of edits to a post about my recent trip to southern California, and I'm in no mood to recreate all that now.
So crack open a Mulo and visit Irritated Tulsan and his collection of vintage ads from summers past, including one for the Kip's Big Boy at 11th and Trenton. He's got some pretty neon photos, too, and he wants your favorite memories of Bell's Amusement Park.
Modern Tulsa has a photographic recap of the "Living in Hi-Fi Tour" of Lortondale's mid-century modern homes.
Holly Wall has a guest post up at Tasha Does Tulsa reporting on Thirsty Thursday at Drillers Stadium.
A fascinating new blog, Tulsa Gal, focuses on Tulsa history. Nancy is a researcher and volunteer for the Tulsa Historical Society.
Finally, make your blood boil with the Infrastructurist's then-and-now photos of beautiful train stations that met the wrecking ball.
Notes about demolition and neglect, here and elsewhere:
From the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.
Red Fork's oldest remaining high school building is to be demolished. The 1925 building served for most of its history as Clinton Middle School, but when first built it was the high school for the Red Fork district, which was previously located on the Park Elementary campus, which dates back to 1908. (The Park high school was built in 1918, according to the Sanborn map, but has been gone for decades.) Clinton continued as a high school until 1938, when Daniel Webster High School opened. This story tells about the time capsule discovered in its cornerstone:
When officials took down the cornerstone, they found a copper box not much bigger than a car stereo in a gap in the brick wall.
In it, they found a small U.S. flag with 48 stars, several yellowed copies of The Tulsa Tribune newspaper, and lists of members of the Order of the Eastern Star, Red Fork Masons, Red Fork school board members and faculty and staff members at Clinton, which was a high school in 1925.
The Tulsa Public Schools website has a slide show and high resolution images of some of the objects in the Clinton Middle School cornerstone.
The first time I found my way onto W. 41st Street many years ago, I was impressed and amazed by the civic buildings along this half-mile stretch between Union Ave. and Southwest Blvd:Trinity Baptist Church, Pleasant Porter School (originally Clinton Public Grade School), sited in a shady grove of tall trees, Clinton Middle School, and the Clinton Memorial First Baptist Church of Red Fork -- each had a certain dignity that marked Red Fork not as a suburb, but as a town in its own right. The old Baptist Church was demolished to make way for the new Clinton Middle School; now the old school is being torn down after 84 years of service.
(Here's some more historical information on the Clinton family and the school that stood on their old homestead.)
Four miles north-northeast, someone has taken photos of the interior of the Tulsa Club building, on the northwest corner of 5th and Cincinnati. The art deco building has been left to rot, unsecured, by its current owner, and it has become the target of graffiti vandals who seem to know that no one cares. I've been in the building twice: Once for the school prom ("Dutchman Weekend") my sophomore year in high school, and once just after the Tulsa Club shut down for good and the fixtures were auctioned off. There are hints of what once was, but the interior is pretty well trashed.
On to Detroit, where the last vestiges of old Tiger Stadium, aka Briggs Stadium, are being demolished for no good reason. The infield stands still stood, and preservationists had been working successfully to raise funds to preserve them, maintain the diamond as a community ball field, and use the stadium structure as a museum to house broadcaster Ernie Harwell's collection of memorabilia. Despite the progress of preservationists in raising funds, the Detroit City Council decided to turn even more of their once-bustling city into flat nothingness.
Neil de Mause explains what made Tiger Stadium special and worth saving:
Tiger Stadium is now the last surviving example of an old-style upper deck overhang. Yankee Stadium will be gone shortly; Fenway Park doesn't have an upper deck to speak of; and Wrigley Field, for all its charms, has a top deck set way back from the action. That leaves the sliver of stands still standing in Detroit as the only place in the world where baseball fans will be able to experience what was once commonplace: cheap seats that, thanks the miracle of cantilevering and the willingness to make some field-level patrons sit in the shade, are closer to the field of play than all but the priciest field-level seats at modern stadia -- stunningly close at Tiger, where Tom Boswell famously wrote that sitting in the upper deck behind home plate and watching Jack Morris pitch enabled him to truly learn the importance of changing speeds.
I saw a game there once. In 1988, my last full summer of bachelorhood, my friend Rick Koontz and I went on a week-long "Rust Belt Tour" that took us to Wrigley Field, Comiskey Park (the original one), Tiger Stadium, Cleveland Municipal Stadium ("the mistake by the lake"), and Riverfront Stadium. 21 years later, only Wrigley still stands. We had great seats to watch the Tigers play the Yankees, a game the Tigers won, 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth, a six-run inning that concluded with an Allan Trammell grand slam home run. It was the most exciting game of the trip, and a great place to watch a game. (It was also the night the Pistons lost to the Lakers in Game 7 of the NBA finals. We were relieved, given Detroit's reputation for violent celebrations.)
Demolishing the stadium is a mistake. Even in its diminished, partly demolished state, the stadium served as a defining feature of the historic Corktown neighborhood-a reminder of better days, but also a cornerstone for future revitalization of the community. Redevelopment of this iconic historic place for, among other things, youth baseball leagues, could transform it back into the thriving center of community activity that it once was. Now, city leaders have chosen a course that will in all likelihood lead to yet another empty lot in Detroit-the last thing the city needs.
Despite a protest at Tiger Stadium last week, Detroit contractors began razing the 1923 structure the following day. Late Friday afternoon, a judge issued a temporary restraining order, which should have halted all destruction, but crews continued demolition until the end of the day.
On Monday Wayne County Circuit Judge Prentis Edwards lifted the restraining order and rejected the conservancy's request for the injunction.
"[Demolition crews] were out there an hour after the decision. They didn't waste any time," says Michael Kirk, vice president of the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy, which requested a permanent injunction to halt the demolition. "We don't understand it. There's no other development deal pending for the site, so the need for speed doesn't make any sense."
City attorneys argued that the conservancy could not raise enough for the $27 million construction project to retain Navin Field, the oldest part of the existing stadium complex.
Plans to demolish the remaining section of the old stadium were set back in motion after a 7-1 vote on Tuesday, June 2, by the board of Detroit's Economic Development Corporation. Waymon Guillebreaux, executive vice president, said in a statement last week that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy "is still far short of its targets" agreed upon in a memorandum of understanding with the city that was signed last fall and claimed the conservancy did not have "secure commitments for funding the project."
The board acted despite $3.8 million earmarked by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy's plan; an identified $19 million from new market, "brownfield," and state and federal historic tax credits (some of which were already applied for and approved); and $500,000 in grants, loans and private donations.
Lowell Boileau, a painter, created a website in the late '90s called The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit, a site that contains hundreds of images of abandoned and now-demolished buildings, including abandoned suburban buildings that took the place of previously abandoned urban buildings.
Zimbabwe, El Tajin, Athens, Rome: Now, as for centuries, tourists behold those ruins with awe and wonder. Yet today, a vast and history laden ruin site passes unnoticed, even despised, into oblivion.
Come, travel with me, as I guide you on a tour through the fabulous and vanishing ruins of my beloved Detroit.
It's a tour worth taking -- well-organized with an "express" path that hits the highlights, and "detours" that allow deeper exploration.
Sadly, at a time when mainstream public support for historic preservation is growing, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has decided to squander its hard-won credibility by turning its blog over to the promotion of "gay pride" during the month of June, in a series of posts that have nothing to do with preserving and protecting historic buildings. (One exception: There is a post about preservation in West Hollywood; the "gay" connection is that it was written by a preservationist drag queen.) The latest example is this essay on "gayborhoods" entitled "Pardon Me Sir, But Can I Queer Your Space." This is a classic example of a venerable organization being hijacked to serve someone's personal agenda rather than the cause for which it was founded.
There are a couple of tours happening in and around Tulsa this weekend that may tickle your fancy:
An all-day bus tour of historic all-black towns will take place this Saturday, from 7 am to 5 pm. Freed slaves from the Muscogee (Creek) Nation founded a number of towns south and east of Tulsa around the turn of the 20th century. Other towns were established in the newly opened Oklahoma Territory at the end of the 19th century as part of a black statehood movement.
The tour is $30. For information and to make reservations call 918-596-7280. (Found via TheMidtowner.)
This Saturday evening, 5:30 to 8:30 pm, the Modern Tulsa committee of the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture is hosting a tour of homes in the mid-century modern neighborhood of Lortondale, east of Yale Ave. between 26th and 28th Streets.
Designed and built in 1954 by Tulsa duo Donald Honn (architect) and Howard Grubb (builder), the Lortondale Neighborhood was the recipient of a multitude of national design awards. The neighborhood was featured in an array of magazines including House and Home and Better Homes and Gardens.
In recent years Lortondale has experienced something of a rebirth. A new generation of homeowners, interested in modern design, are snapping up the houses just as fast as they come on the market. After decades of neglect, many of the houses in the neighborhood are being restored to their former modern glory. Most importantly, the Lortondale Community is experiencing the same restoration.
This year's tour seeks to convey the energy that is the Lortondale Neighborhood today. Featured are 6 houses in various stages of completion. From the beginning stages of a restoration to a virtually complete example of HiFi-modern bliss, this tour of Lortondale will show you what all the buzz is about.
Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the tour, and available at Dwelling Spaces, Urban Furnishings, Ida Red Boutique, and the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture office. All the details are available at the Modern Tulsa website.
The tour is self-paced. You can start at any home and purchase a ticket at the first house you visit:
- 4912 E. 26th Terrace
- 5331 E. 26th Pl.
- 5342 E. 26th Pl.
- 4953 E. 27th St.
- 4958 E. 27th St.
- 5312 E. 27th St.
There's an ongoing online tour you can follow vicariously. A family is visiting all 77 of Oklahoma's counties, taking photos, and recounting their travels. You can follow their progress on the 77 Counties blog. (The latest entries will also be linked on the BatesLine Oklahoma headlines page.)
For your viewing pleasure, Tulsa TV Memories links to the Life archive and photos from February 1952 of KOTV general manager Helen Alvarez. Besides photos of the lovely Mrs. Alvarez, the archive shows the Channel 6 news, weather, and sports sets of the day, plus photos from the Sun Refinery and of a powwow. (Does this qualify as a Rule 5 post?)
Irritated Tulsan discovers that the Boulder Ave. bridge is safe enough -- for the crane that's demolishing it.
Steve Roemerman has posted a new podcast, reacting to Councilor G. T. Bynum's comments during last week's ballpark assessment vote.
Chris Medlock has a new podcast up, reacting to comments about city election "reform" made by former Mayor Susan Savage. And he talks to State Sen. Randy Brogdon about the legislative session and the gubernatorial campaign.
I was sad to learn of the death of Beryl Ford, the collector of historic Tulsa photographs and ephemera. Ford was 83. Every Tulsan with a desire to understand our city's past owes him an immense debt of gratitude.
I can't find words strong enough to explain how important his life's work is to our ability to understand Tulsa history. The Beryl Ford Collection, now in the hands of the Tulsa Historical Society thanks to the Rotary Club of Tulsa, is an irreplaceable part of our city's collective memory. The earliest years of Tulsa are no longer a part of living memory, but Ford's collection gives us some idea of what it was like. The Ford collection shows us central Tulsa at its post-war peak. It also shows us its dismantling.
Increasingly, baby boomers have to turn to the Ford collection to see the places we remember from our 1950s and 1960s childhoods, as mid-century businesses are lost to highway expansion, redevelopment, and renovation.
The collective memory is a tricky thing. We develop myths about how things used to be and how they came to be the way they are now. (E.g., "the Greenwood gap".) For Tulsa the Beryl Ford Collection, alongside other contemporaneous records like phone books, street directories, and newspapers, helps to correct the false memories and the false explanations they engender.
Mr. Ford's passing is a reminder of the work that still needs to be done to make the most of what he left us. I still hope to see high resolution scans put online with Flickr Commons, so they can be geocoded, tagged, and described in detail.
Here is a link to past BatesLine items that make reference to the Beryl Ford Collection.
MORE: From the comments, a tribute from Mark Sanders, one of Beryl Ford's cousins:
Thanks, Michael, for honoring Beryl Ford on your blog. We do owe him a debt of gratitude. As you know, Beryl was my second cousin, and my own fascination with Tulsa history is due in large measure to my access to Beryl's collection while he still owned it.
Tulsans should understand and appreciate that Beryl's relentless collecting - particularly at times when preservation of historical assets was not a culturally-valued pursuit, i.e. the 1970s - was motivated solely by his love for Tulsa and the highest ideals of preservation. The pursuit of financial gain was never part of his personal agenda. As he began to feel his own mortality in recent years, he looked to place the Collection, not with the highest bidder(s), but with an institution that would keep it together and make it readily available to the citizens of Tulsa. I, like you, trust that the Historical Society and Library will do all that is required to make this collection a powerful and accessible historical resource. One of the tragedies of Beryl's passing is that we have now lost the Collection's most capable geocoder/tagger/describer. Hopefully, other old-timers and students of Tulsa history will step up to that important task.
Finally, Tulsans should know something of the character of Beryl Ford, and the intensity of his affection - and that of the entire Ford family - for Tulsa. Beryl is a life-long Tulsan, but the Ford family's roots in Tulsa came about quite by happenstance. In the 1910s, when Beryl's father, Jewell (then a teenager), ran away from the family farm near Sallisaw, his grandfather (my great-grandfather), Nathaniel, followed up a rumored sighting in Tulsa, and took a train there - intent , literally, to walk the streets until he found his son. It wasn't necessary - within 2 blocks of the train station he met him on the street. Jewell immediately regaled his father with stories of ample construction job opportunities in Tulsa's booming economy. Nathaniel - who was a pioneer of the Pentecostal movement in Oklahoma - took all this as a sign that the family should move to Tulsa. So he returned to the farm, put the draft animals on a railcar and moved the household to Tulsa to begin a horse-driven excavation business. Some of Tulsa's existing landmark buildings, and - sadly - some that are now surface parking, were Ford excavated.
Beryl, like most of the other Fords, made his living in the building trades. He was never part of Tulsa's ruling class or social elite, but he made a contribution to Tulsa's history every bit as meaningful as that of any storied oil baron or newspaper publisher. And like the most of the rest of his family, he lived simply (in Tulsa's McClure Park neighborhood), valuing faith, family and community over the accumulation of wealth and status.
May he rest in peace; and may we all follow his fine civic example.
From the City of Tulsa Planning Department, notice of a meeting to gather public input on how best to use Tulsa's share of federal historic preservation funds:
The Tulsa Preservation Commission invites Tulsans to participate in the development of the City of Tulsa's Annual Certified Local Government Program.
A meeting will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 14, 2009 to receive public input. The meeting will be held on the 10th Floor of City Hall @ One Technology Center, located at 175 E. 2nd Street in downtown Tulsa. Parking is available at the southeast corner of 2nd & Cincinnati.
A portion of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Historic Preservation Fund is allocated for participation in the Certified Local Governments program. Each year, the Tulsa Preservation Commission uses this money to facilitate preservation within our City. Citizens can provide assistance in identifying ways to best use the 2009-2010 funds.
Funds can be used for such projects as:
- Inventory and/or National Register Nomination of historic resources within the community;
- Increasing public awareness of historic preservation; and
- Preparing amendments or updates to the Tulsa Historic Preservation Plan and Historic Preservation zoning program.
With your support we can continue to build on Tulsa's preservation achievements.
Please contact Amanda DeCort, City of Tulsa Planning Department, at (918) 576-5669 for more information.
Here's a very insightful comment by someone with the handle "innercityartisan," posted next to my column about the PLANiTULSA small-area workshop for Forest Orchard, about the way expressways and other barriers to pedestrian and auto traffic on surface streets can blight a neighborhood. It also provides a picture of living in and near downtown a generation ago. (Emphasis added.)
I was there at the meeting. And I grew up in this area in the 50's and 60's. The more I think about the idea of removing the east leg of the IDL, the more I like it!
As kids, we walked or took the bus downtown to the movies. I walked to Central H. S., my gym class played field hockey in Central Park. At noon we students ran around a very busy downtown for lunch and did all our teenage shopping in the department stores and record store. We knew all the "secret" ways to get from one building to the next and across alleys. We were at home downtown, we felt safe and in a way we were supervised by the tens of thousands of people that lived and worked in the inner city.
My grandfather, a geologist, had his office in the Mid-Continent Building. We went to parades, enjoyed the Christmas lights and explored eateries with him.
I am now involved with the Pearl District and where I grew up and work in my home between the Gunboat Parks within the IDL. I am also involved with the Brady Arts District and the East Village at 3rd and Lansing. All these areas suffer because of the "Great Divide."
As has been recognized by other more recognized writers and activists, any city area that runs up against a large "dead" tract of land such as an expressway right-of-way, with no through foot traffic, tends to die and shrivel away. Large parking lots such as those around Hillcrest Hospital or cul-de-sacs and turnarounds that stop through traffic and long chain link fences can mean blight to a neighborhood.
After all, how can your neighborhood become an area that people discover and want to visit or live in if no one ever goes into or through it? And how can you feel safe living, walking or playing with no one around to keep an eye on things?
The only people to "discover" the Brady district have come for events at Cain's and the Old Lady on Brady and most of them don't stay. The Brady area is not so "alive" with activity in many continuous storefronts that a person can feel completely safe walking alone at night. Few people live there. Visitors don't tend to stop and explore. Hopefully the Ball Stadium will increase the number of buildings and residents.
I'm concerned that the vision for the Pearl District with shops and restaurants, small grocery stores, dry cleaners etc. will not happen in development areas placed next to the IDL. This condition also effects the "East Village" or "East End" which is directly across the IDL from the Pearl district. And yet these two neighborhoods could exponentially increase, the interest, excitement and potential resources available for walking residents and visitors if they were actually more connected and accessible to each other. The existing few overpasses between these areas feel long, exposed and very windy!
Get rid of the IDL or cross it with overpasses that have buildings on them. Something that encourages people to hang out and provide a friendly safe environment.
This coming Saturday (May 2, 2009) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., old downtown Red Fork will be home to a "Down on Main Street" festival. Red Fork was a separate town once upon a time, annexed into the City of Tulsa circa 1927. It's now home to the first "Main Street" program within the City of Tulsa.
Oklahoma has had an active and successful Main Street program for many years, encouraging restoration of historic buildings and the commercial revitalization of dozens of small-town downtowns across the state.
The Main Street program is not just for small towns. Oklahoma City has four active Main Street programs: Stockyards City, Capitol Hill, Plaza District, and Eastside Capitol Gateway; Automobile Alley used to be on the list, too. When I asked City of Tulsa officials back in the late '90s about starting it up here, the responses were oddly reluctant, as if such a thing might get in the way of tearing buildings down.
At long last, two years ago, Red Fork became the first Main Street program in the city, with hopes of bringing Southwest Blvd -- old Route 66 -- back to life. The Down on Main Street festival is part of the program to promote the area and bring the community together. From the festival flier, here are the events planned:
- Pie contest
- Ollie's Restaurant's Blue Plate Special
- Live music
- Global Garden's Kids' Zone
- Art show
- Farmers market with a Westside charm
The festival will take place along Southwest Blvd. near 41st St.
The deadline to enter the pie contest is TODAY (April 27, 2009). You must have your entry form and a $5 fee to the Red Fork Main Street office, 3708 Southwest Blvd, by 5 p.m. Click here for a form and more details.
Here's hoping for good weather for Saturday's Down on Main Street festival.
Here are some interesting publications relating to early-day Oklahoma on the websites of the National Archives and the Internet Archive.
The National Archives has an online sample of documents from their Center for Legislative Archives about Oklahoma's path to statehood including:
- Survey Map of Oklahoma and Indian Territory showing distances, municipal towns, and post offices, published by George Cram, 1902
- President Benjamin Harrison's nomination of George Washington Steele to be the first Governor of the Oklahoma Territory, May 8, 1890
- First page of the Joint Statehood Convention, Oklahoma City, July 12, 1905
- HR 12707, A Bill to enabling the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, January 20, 1906
- Pages from a pamphlet called "Souvenirs of Tulsa - Indian Territory," 1906, which was submitted to Congress as evidence of Oklahoma's readiness to be admitted to the Union
- Telegram from T.H. Marlin of the Indian Territory to Joe Cannon, March 13, 1906
- Letter from Edwin Meeker of the Oklahoma Territory begging the House to concur with the Senate's amendment to the statehood bill, March 13, 1906
- Engrossed HR 12707, An act to enable the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, first page, June 16, 1906
- Engrossed HR 12707, An act to enable the people of the Indian and Oklahoma Territories to form a state constitution and State government, endorsement, July 16, 1906
The main page has thumbnails of each item, which you can click on to see an enlarged view. You can also download a high-resolution scan of each item. (For example, the full-res version of the map is 68 MB.)
The Internet Archive offers a 1916 book, now in the public domain, called Men of affairs and representative institutions of Oklahoma. It comes from the collection of the New York Public Library. It features photographs and descriptions of important Oklahomans of the day, with an emphasis on Tulsa. You can view the book online, or download it as a PDF and in various other formats. I found it while looking for information about Tulsa's streetcar companies.
Cyrus Stevens Avery, who would become the father of Route 66, is one of the featured "men of affairs":
oil producer and farmer, Tulsa, born in Stevensville, Pa., on August 30, 1871, son of James A. and Ruie Avery. Educated in the public schools. Received A. B. degree from William Jewel College, Liberty, Mo. He is a Democrat and has served two terms as commissioner of Tulsa county. Is a Mason of high degree, being a member of the Consistory and Mystic Shrine. Member Board Directors Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa, and president Good Roads Association of the State.
Other Tulsa notables include Glenn T. Braden, founder of ONG and namesake of Braden Park, Patrick J. Hurley, Robert Galbreath (the man who discovered the Glenn Pool), and Harry Sinclair. Pat Malloy, Sr., is in the book -- former county attorney, Notre Dame graduate: "Mr. Malloy was left an orphan at the age of 14, a cyclone at Salix, Iowa, having killed his father, mother, two brothers and a sister."
Toward the back of the book there's a photo and description of the late lamented Manhattan Court apartments at 11th & Cincinnati:
On the opposite page is shown Manhattan Court, Cincinnati avenue and Eleventh street, owned by David J. Kelley, of the Manhattan Oil Co., Tulsa, the most beautiful and most exclusive apartments in the Southwest. The suites are three rooms and bath; interior trimmed in mahogany; quarter-sawed oak floors throughout; specially designed electric light fixtures; building scientifically ventilated; construction, asbestos and fire-proof stucco. Manhattan Court has its own pure water system connected with each apartment for all purposes; instantaneous hot water; steam heat; all kitchens open on beautiful interior court with its fountain of pure water and lawn; under personal direction of superintendent, always on premises; iron grill entrance for trades people in rear, adding to the exclusiveness and privacy of the occupants; special store room for each occupant in the basement; kitchens completely furnished with gas range, pantry kitchen table, sanitary refrigerator, connected with air vents and flush drains; garbage container furnished; garbage and waste burned; container thoroughly cleaned daily; each department connected with vacuum cleaner, work done by superintendent; sanitary bed in each apartment; large closet with modern appliances for clothing; bathrooms tiled and white enamel; recessed tubs, porcelain fixtures, plate-glass mirrors, medicine cabinets recessed in the walls; adjustable head shower baths; all bath rooms fitted with white enamel accessories: highest standard of plumbing and modern fixtures with latest sanitary appliances of approved design.
Manhattan Court occupies a convenient and attractive site in Tulsa. The artistic and attractive exterior of this structure, combined with its modern, luxurious and convenient interior, offers a must desirable residence for discriminating and appreciative people who understand that it is not how much money one spends, but what
is received in return for such expenditure.
Manhattan Court is not excelled by any similar structure in the United States and it is with some degree of pleasure that the owner has been privileged to contribute his share in this manner to the welfare and upbuilding of Tulsa. These flats are all rented a year ahead, and have a large waiting list.
Other back pages are devoted to a four story building called the Oklahoma Hospital, somewhere in Tulsa, the Tulsa Pathological Lab at 3rd and Cheyenne, the R. T. Daniel Bldg at 3rd & Boston, Boswell's Jewelry, the Gallais Building (now known as the Kennedy Building), the seven-story Brady Hotel, the three-story Overton Grocery.
Construction in the new Maple Ridge neighborhood is highlighted in a two-page ad for Stebbins, Eisenbach, Tucker, and Darnell, General Agents. They project that Tulsa will soon pass Oklahoma City. "[H]ere is to be the great city between the Missouri river and the Gulf coast...."
One page is devoted to Oklahoma City's extensive streetcar and interurban system. Nowata's Savoy Hotel and Mineral Baths gets a page. Several two-page spreads are devoted to various Oklahoma oil refineries. There were once many more in Tulsa besides the two that remain.
Photos of the original Kendall College building and Kemp Hall (the girls' dorm) will make you mad at TU all over again:
The present college is located at College Hill, and has a thirty-acre campus with five college buildings. Three hundred and fifty young men and women can be accommodated. Kendall likes Tulsa and Tulsa likes Kendall. The city has given the ground and about $200,000. The college work consists of nine departments, instructed by a University-trained corps of twenty-five men and women. The course is four years, leading to classical degrees, academic course of four years, corresponding to first-class high school courses. Also special courses in music, art, expression, domestic science, oil geology, business a'nd normal training. The dormitory facilities are unexcelled in the state. Every room is an outside room, and the chapel seats 550. A 55,000 pipe organ was installed in 1915. The gymnasium is one of the best in the state: building 65x90 feet, with a basket ball court. 40x70 feet. Visitors' gallery that will seat 500, bowling alleys, dressing rooms, equipped with lockers and shower baths.
Gone, every last bit of it.
The big surprise was seeing Moman Pruiett in this august and respectable company: "Prior to April 15, 1916, Mr. Pruiett had defended 346 men and women charged with murder; and he now has on his docket thirty-nine similar cases. In addition to this record, he has assisted in the prosecution of 37 charged with murder; and has been equally successful as a prosecutor. It is said that he had defended and caused to be acquitted more men for murder than any other lawyer in the world, and he has not yet been practicing twenty years." I didn't expect that he'd be respectable enough for inclusion. A recent biography of Pruiett is titled He Made It Safe to Murder.
A search of the Internet Archive for Tulsa turns up quite a lot of video of city council meetings, public forums, and other events by David Schuttler. It's interesting to realize that the work of this enterprising blogger/videographer is better preserved and more accessible to the public than the news coverage of local TV stations. Many sermons by Dennis Gunderson of Tulsa's Grace Bible Church turn up as well.
MORE to come: Jack Blair of the Tulsa City Council staff has sent along a number of city documents about our streetcar companies -- very interesting stuff that I hope to get posted in the not too distant future.
Over the last 9 days, I:
- Wrote two regular columns for Urban Tulsa Weekly
- Wrote two extra thousand-word pieces, which will appear in UTW's Spring Thing, one of the paper's two annual full-color special inserts
- Edited and cross-checked a 75-page technical proposal, writing or re-writing sections of it, working 10-12 hour days, including weekends
On Sunday arrived at the office about 1 p.m., lunch in hand. I broke for dinner about 7:30, writing a first draft of my column, returned to the office about 9, and went back to work on the proposal, incorporating last minute corrections and making sure we hadn't left anything out. At 3 a.m., five of us -- the executive VP, the engineering director, the program manager, the tech writer, and me -- gathered in the conference room to cut and streamline to get the proposal under the page limit. We finished about 4, and I went back to work on the column -- sent it in at 5:49, drove home, set out the trash, and was in bed about 6:10. Slept five hours and went back to the office to give the printed proposal a final review.
This evening, my 12-year-old son and I went to Will Rogers High School for their "Second Monday" architectural tour which runs from 6:30 - 8:00. The monthly tour is free, but they hope you'll buy popcorn, soda, and special calendars to help support the theatrical program. The next major production is the 45th edition of the Will Rogers Roundup, a variety show that will run in mid-April in the school's beautiful 1500-seat auditorium. The school, which opened in 1939, is beautiful inside and out.
(Here's Joseph Koberling's commentary on the architecture of the school he designed with Leon Senter.)
The WRHS alumnus who gave a historical lecture in the auditorium at the start of the tour (didn't catch his name, but he did a fine job) related a conversation he had at the National Preservation Conference last fall. The preservationist came to the WRHS booth in the exhibit hall and wanted to know what the school was used for now and when it was renovated. The preservationist was certain that, like many historic buildings, WRHS had been badly remodeled or neglected at some point in its history, and that it had been deemed obsolete and repurposed in some way. The remarkable thing about Will Rogers High School is that they've simply done a great job of preserving it, continuing to use it for its original purpose and never "wreckovating" it.
Back home, I still had laundry to do and a three-year-old to bathe.
But now I'm beat. There's some interesting new stuff over in the linkblog. I'm off to get some sleep.
I mentioned a few weeks ago my stunned amazement as I drove down Quincy Ave.:
Looking south on Quincy Ave. from 6th St., I noticed a tell-tale pair of parallel cracks in the asphalt, each crack about the same distance from the middle of the street. The distance between the two cracks was about the same as the width of a standard gauge train track....
As I passed 8th St. heading southbound on Quincy, the parallel cracks swerved to the right. A bit further on, I noticed another pair of parallel cracks, about a foot away from the pair I had been following. The two pairs of cracks, swerved back toward the middle just north of 10th St. It looked very much like a spot where a single track split in two to allow streetcars heading in opposite directions to pass each other.
My jaw dropped when I spotted this.
Here is one of several photos I took of Quincy Ave between 8th and 10th Streets, showing cracks in the asphalt, which reveal where once ran the Tulsa Street Railway streetcar tracks. Here, looking north from 10th St., you can see where a single pair of tracks splits into two, so that cars headed in opposite directions could pass each other. Neighborhood lore holds that this was a stop on the line.
Here's a link to the whole Tulsa Streetcars set on Flickr, which will grow as I add other photos of remnants of Tulsa's streetcar and interurban system.
TULSA TRACTION COMPANY -- This company was recently incorporated in Oklahoma with $100,000 capital and plans to build from Tulsa, Okla., southwest to Sapulpa, also extensions connecting Broken Arrow, Bixby and Okmulgee and a line north to Collinsville, in all about 80 miles. The company has bought Oklahoma Union Traction line in Tulsa. G. C. Stebbins, president; A. J. Biddison, vice-president and general counsel; I. F. Crow, secretary and treasurer, and B. C. Redgraves, superintendent.
This company was recently incorporated in Oklahoma with $100,000 capital, it is said, to succeed the Oklahoma Union Traction Company. A line will be built south of Tulsa, Okla., to Sapulpa and Okmulgee, and on the north to Collinsville. The company now operates six miles of single track to Orcutt Lake. G. C. Stebbins, president, and B. C. Redgraves, superintendent.
I was sad to learn tonight of the passing of legendary radio broadcaster and Tulsa native Paul Harvey at the age of 90.
Harvey grew up at 1014 E. 5th Pl. -- the house is still there -- went to Longfellow School at 6th and Peoria, and then Central High School, starting his radio career at KVOO when he was still in high school. (They were all within walking distance of each other back in the '30s -- KVOO was in the Philtower.) A few years ago he reported receiving a letter from a more recent resident of that house, who had found a wood-shop project in the attic with his name on it -- bookends, I think it was.
I started listening to Paul Harvey's broadcasts in the mid-1970s, at a time when he wasn't carried by any Tulsa station, at least none that I could find. I listened to him on KGGF 690 out of Coffeyville, Kansas. Eventually -- sometime in the late '70s, I think -- KRMG picked him up.
When I started working in Tulsa after college, I often ate my lunch in the car at a nearby park, listening to his noontime broadcast. If I missed him on KRMG at noon, I could catch him on KGGF at 12:40.
It could be hard to listen to Paul Harvey's broadcasts over the last few years, as time finally took its toll on his vocal cords, but it was still the same interesting variety of news, still the same distinctive speech pattern.
Paul Harvey put news out there that no other outlet touched. His Paul Harvey News and Comment scoured the wires for random stuff-and ideologically inconvenient stuff- you just didn't hear on the Big Three mainstream TV news, and crammed it all in to crisp five minute chunks, complete with terse commentary and the occasional wry thwack of sarcasm-and he still had time for the inevitable personalized pitches for Buicks and the Bose Acoustic Wave Radio. Here's what he had to say about his advertisers:"I can't look down on the commercial sponsors of these broadcasts," he told CBS in 1988. "Too often they have very, very important messages to put across. Without advertising in this country, my goodness, we'd still be in this country what Russia mostly still is: a nation of bearded cyclists with b.o."
Zing. He was always like that. Paul Harvey invented blogging; he just did his blogging on the radio....
His radio show wasn't particularly ideological-you could tell he leaned right but it was mainly through the choice of stories and headlines he picked out. He also had a syndicated column back in the day that my state paper carried, and he was a rock-ribbed Middle American (Tulsa native, in fact) social and fiscal conservative with a heart of gold, a deep love of country, and no illusions about the stakes of foreign policy. He was a Reaganesque thinker, as well as a Reaganesque communicator.
(See-Dubya notes: "I kind of trace the groundswell of interest in [Fred] Thompson back to his time broadcasting from Paul Harvey's chair, and likewise the deflation of the Thompson bubble to the time he left it." Hearing Fred in that setting certainly sparked my interest,)
THE REST OF THE STORY:
This page about Tulsa radio on Tulsa TV Memories notes that he was a student of Miss Isabelle Ronan at Central High School, and includes a Real Media clip of Paul Harvey speaking on the Larry King Show about his education, his career, and his optimism.
AND THERE'S THIS:
WGN radio, his Chicago home base, has audio clips from Paul Harvey's broadcasts and speeches and the ABC News radio special on the life and career of Paul Harvey which was heard this morning on KRMG.
Washington Post obituary: "Broadcaster Delivered 'The Rest of the Story'" (It's by Joe Holley. Wonder if he's any relation to the southpaw fiddler.)
Paul Harvey, 90, a Chicago-based radio broadcaster whose authoritative baritone voice and distinctive staccato delivery attracted millions of daily listeners for more than half a century, died Feb. 28 in Phoenix.
A spokesman for ABC Radio Networks told the Associated Press that Mr. Harvey died at his winter home, surrounded by family. No cause of death was immediately available.
Mr. Harvey was the voice of the American heartland, offering to millions his trademark greeting: "Hello Americans! This is Paul Harvey. Stand by! For news!"
For millions, Paul Harvey in the morning or at noon was as much a part of daily routine as morning coffee.
HERE IS A STRANGE:
Aaron Barnhart gives a couple of examples of Paul Harvey's impact -- one coming from Keith Olbermann. Keith Olbermann?
"I was his official fill-in from 2001-03 and I was overwhelmed by the thought that went in to the selection and flow of stories. Even when he was off, his rules were in place: each segment began with hard news, moved on to commentary, ended with celebrity and then something light or silly. Then a commercial. Then repeat. Then another commercial, etc.
"I stole it almost entirely for 'Countdown.'"
Bathtub Boy's interpretation of Harvey's demand that ABC replace him as his heir apparent seems a little off:
And though he liked my work, and consented to let ABC groom me to succeed him, when an executive flew to Chicago to get his consent to the network giving away free a Sunday version of his show, done by me, he immediately told them not only would he not agree, but if they did not find a different back-up and write it into a new contract, he would not go on the air the next day. Probably the most job-secure, most irreplacable man in broadcasting, without whom the franchise would sink to 10% of its value, and yet he was convinced he was about to be shown the door. The mind reels.
I don't think Paul Harvey was afraid of losing his job. I think he was afraid of the franchise he had built over 50 years being handed over to a nutter like Olbermann.
But wash your ears out with this, from Barnhart's closing paragraphs:
Finally, a word about Paul Harvey's non-verbal communication. No one in radio got away with the silences that he did. His pauses weren't just pregnant, they were Nadya Suleman pregnant. They were amazingly long, by radio standards. They challenged the listener's assumption that an interruption to the flow of continuous noise meant something was wrong. Nothing was wrong; Paul Harvey just wanted the listener's attention back, in case it had drifted. The great communicator was speaking to his invisible audience with invisible words. And they listened.
So now, as you finish this, don't just observe a moment of silence for Paul Harvey. Listen to the silence.
He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Okla., on Sept. 4, 1918, the son of Harrison Aurandt, a police officer, and Anna Dagmar Christian Aurandt. His father was killed in a gun battle when he was 3, and his mother rented out rooms to make ends meet. He was raised a Baptist, and it influenced his views.
As a boy he was fascinated with radio and built a receiver out of a cigar box. As a teenager, he had a strong resonant voice, and in 1933 a teacher at Tulsa Central High School escorted him to local station KVOO-AM and told the manager: "This boy needs to be on the radio."
He was taken on as an unpaid errand boy, but soon was allowed to deliver commercials, play a guitar and read the news on the air; two years later, he got his first paycheck.
I remember crawling in from college football practice at 5:30 p.m. -- this was the early 1980s -- and collapsing on a locker room bench while over the loudspeaker came The Voice halfway through his evening broadcast, which wasn't news at all, but a feature story where some famous person's identity was revealed in a surprise, twist ending....
Talk about a surreal scene: fifty exhausted college football players from all across the country lying all over a locker room floor in silence waiting for Paul Harvey to reveal the identity of today's subject. "And now you know...the rest of the story...Paul Harvey...Good Day!" Only then would we hit the showers.
He would make these warm-up noises -- voice exercises, silly-sounding tweets and yodels, strange little un-Paul-Harvey-like sounds -- and he showed no self-consciousness about doing it in front of someone else, because would a National Football League linebacker be self-conscious about someone seeing him stretch before a game, would a National Basketball Association forward be worried about someone seeing him leap up and down before tipoff? This was Paul Harvey's arena, and he would get the voice ready, loosening it, easing it up to the starting line.
And then the signal from the booth, and. . .
"Hello, Americans! This is Paul Harvey! Stand by. . . for news!"
And he would look down at those words that had come out of his typewriter minutes before -- some of them underlined to remind him to punch them hard -- and they became something grander than ink on paper, they became the song, the Paul Harvey symphony. He would allow me to sit right with him in the little room -- he never made me watch from behind the glass -- and there were moments, when his phrases, his word choices, were so perfect -- flawlessly written, flawlessly delivered -- that I just wanted to stand up and cheer.
But of course I never did any such thing -- in Paul Harvey's studio, if you felt a tickle in your throat you would begin to panic, because you knew that if you so much as coughed it would go out over the air into cities and towns all across the continent -- so there were never any cheers. The impulse was always there, though -- when he would drop one of those famous Paul Harvey pauses into the middle of a sentence, letting it linger, proving once again the power of pure silence, the tease of anticipation, you just wanted to applaud for his mastery of his life's work.
He probably wouldn't have thought of himself this way, but he was the ultimate singer-songwriter. He wrote the lyrics. And then he went onto his stage and performed them. The cadences that came out of his fingertips at the typewriter were designed to be translated by one voice -- his voice -- and he did it every working day for more than half a century: did it so well that he became a part of the very atmosphere, an element of the American air.
A couple of years ago, I told you about historian Currie Ballard's amazing find of films taken in Oklahoma in the 1920s of African-American families, communities, businesses, and events. (This YouTube user has some clips from the films.)
These were in the news again recently, and in looking for more information I came across the website of Global ImageWorks, a service that provides stock footage. They list Ballard's collection in their online catalog:
BLACK AMERICAN TOWNS FROM 1920s
Global ImageWorks is exclusively representing a rare and unique film collection discovered by historian Currie Ballard consisting of six hours of film documenting the daily lives of successful black towns in Oklahoma thriving in the aftermath of the infamous Tulsa Riots of 1921. The footage illustrates a little known piece of history and includes footage showing entire black communities visiting one another's country homes, parading through downtown Muskogee in some two dozen Packards, crowding an enormous church in Tulsa not long after the riots, gathering at the National Baptist Convention, and traveling to Europe. It includes black cowboys riding horses amidst oil derricks rising from their ranches, various sporting events including rare footage of the 1928 Los Angeles to New York "Great American Foot Race" in which three of the finishing runners were black Americans. The material found by Ballard came in 29 cans and was shot by the Rev. S. S. Jones, a circuit preacher assigned by National Baptist Convention to document the glories of Oklahoma's black towns of Guthrie, Muskogee, and Langston.
The embedded video on that catalog page is a series of short clips from the collection, which appears to have been beautifully restored.
A site search turns up six "tapes" containing footage from the collection. Here are the titles links to each item page, each of which includes a detailed list of the scenes contained therein:
OKLAHOMA COVERAGE 1924 -1928 - MIDDLE CLASS BLACK LIFESTYLE Tape #: 3382 | Date: 1920s | Location: Clearview, Muskogee, Langston, Bristow, Tulsa, Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Oklahoma coverage of middle class black family life in Clearview, Muksogee , Langston and Bristow showing families on their farms and their oil wells. Unique footage from the Currie Ballard Collection. 1925-1927
AFRICAN AMERICAN MIDDLE CLASS LIFESTYLE IN BLACK RUN TOWNS IN OKLAHOMA 1920S
Tape #: 3383 | Date: 1920s | Location: Muskogee, Harlinville, Depew, Boley, Duncan, Okemah,Taft, Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Scenes of black middle class lifestyle in Oklahoma in completely black run towns of Muskogee, Duncan etc. in 1920s. Church, train scenes, Antioch cadets, black kids in school, grocery and filling stations, farms, and local commerce. From the Currie Ballard Collection.
PEOPLE AND LIFESTYLE IN BLACK RUN TOWN OF MUSKOGEE, OKLAHOMA IN 1925
Tape #: 3384 | Date: 1920s | Location: Muskogee, Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Various residences of people living in Muskogee, Department store, basketball team and high school speling contest, classes, faculty etc. From the Currie Ballard Collection
MIDDLE CLASS LIFE STYLE SHOWING RESIDENCES, FAMILIES AND SCHOOLS.
Tape #: 3385 | Date: 1920s | Location: Okmulgee, Tulsa, Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Middle class life style showing residences, families and schools. From the Currie Ballard Collection
OKLAHOMA - AFRICAN AMERICAN LIFESTYLE
Tape #: 3386 | Date: 1920s | Location: Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Various towns of Oklahoma, residences,schools, baptism, construction, lifestyle, Masons parade, Masonic lodge, Church. From the Currie Ballard Collection.
OKLAHOMA AFRICAN AMERICANS
Tape #: 3387 | Date: 1920s | Location: Germany, Jerusalem, Italy, Oklahoma | Length: 60:00 | Master Format: film - 16mm video - digi beta | B/W
Oklahoma African Americans from the Currie Ballard Collection.
Some of the Tulsa-related scenes:
- The Oklahoma Eagle Divinity Company, Greenwood Street 1927 Tulsa
- Tulane Avenue Baptist Church Bus from New Orleans, Louisiana at Gen Convention Tulsa Brady Theater 1927 Tulsa
- Church members leaving church winter brick church inner city
- Scenes from Thanksgiving Day 1925 parade and football game: "MTH Muskogee vs. BWH of Tulsa" (Tulsa won, 13 to 9)
- Mr. Jessie Brown new $75,000 Funeral Home, 540 E. Easton 1928 Tulsa
- Brown Funeral Service 1928 Tulsa
- Union Baptist CadetS at State SS & BYPU Convention, Rev. D.C. Cooksey August 4, 1928 Tulsa
- Train loaded with cars, oil derrick in background
- Church Baptist Cadets
- Ground Breaking Union Baptist Church Pastor D.C. Cooksey Officers and Members August 4, 1928 Tulsa
- Church ground breaking (older Church burned down during Tulsa Race Riot 1921)
- Tulsa Business League Dr. S.S. Jones (right to left) Tulsa
- Dr. S.S. Jones eyeglasses Tulsa
- Mt. Zion Baptist Church after the Riot Photo Stills (right to left) Tulsa
- Greenwood Street seven years after Tulsa Race Riot 1921
- C.B. Bottling Works, 258 E. Archie (right to left) Tulsa
- Soda Pop Bottling Company
- Jackson's Undertaker Co. (right to left) Tulsa
- Booker T. Washington High School, noon hour Tulsa
- Dunbar Grade School (right to left) Tulsa
- Dunbar Agri Gardens (right to left) Tulsa
There are scenes from many Oklahoma cities and towns, including Okmulgee, Muskogee, Haskell, Coweta, Ardmore, Langston, Bristow, Taft, El Reno, Oklahoma City, Lawton, Depew, Boley, Wewoka, Boynton, Gibson Station, Wetumka, Eufaula, Red Bird, Porter, and Holdenville plus scenes from travels to Paris, London, Chicago, and the Holy Land.
These, along with old street directories, newspaper microfilm, and Sanborn fire insurance maps, could be the makings of a fascinating documentary.
The significance, he said, is the "positive light it puts on blacks in this state. Under the heat of Jim Crow laws, it showed that blacks were prosperous."
Many blacks living in the 1920s were former slaves, and the films show a bustling and prosperous way of life, Ballard said.
"It was rare for a white person to have the camera and equipment in those days," he said. "For someone black to have a camera was unreal. That's what makes it so rare. The movies are from an African-American point of view....
Some of the movies were taken just a few years after the Tulsa race riots of 1921, which virtually destroyed the city's Greenwood district. Jones chronicled the 1925 (black) National Baptist Convention in Greenwood and an accompanying parade.
"The movies showed the strength and resilience of the people of Greenwood to pull off a national convention and to rebuild what was burnt to ashes," Ballard said.
That's the footage that also impresses Blackburn. Like Blackburn, he said it shows the people were able to not only recover but to prosper.
"It would have been easier to be intimidated and to run away and go to St. Louis or Chicago," Blackburn said. "This film footage is very important."
What is interesting, Blackburn said, is that the films show no signs of destruction, but vitality of the Tulsa black community.
When I'm writing a column that has a historical angle, I'll look through the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps or the 1957 Polk Directory for Tulsa. Writing about the Pearl District, I was browsing the street listings for 5th Pl.
In 1957, Paul Harvey's mom, Mrs. Anna D. Aurandt, still lived in the house where Paul grew up, at 1014 E. 5th Pl., right next door to "Lee, W Thos Rev." and family, including regular BatesLine commenter S. Lee. (Click here to see a photo of Paul and his mom, taken by Rev. Lee.)
Just a couple of blocks away on the same street, I spotted this name, familiar to those of us who remember the Golden Age of Tulsa television:
1223 Lile Henry D GI7-1048
Henry Lile was a freelance photographer for KOTV and a private pilot, in addition to his day (actually late night/early morning) job delivering Rainbo Bread.
But a juxtaposition further east, near the TU campus, gave me a chuckle.
Sorority Row, then as now, was on 5th Pl. between Florence and Gary: Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Phi Mu, Kappa Delta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Delta Gamma. Just across the street from sorority row, right across from the Phi Mu house, at 3123 E. 5th Pl., was a single-story house, owned and occupied by...
D. Leon Cowherd.
I was driving around the Pearl District -- the topic of my upcoming column -- this evening just about sunset. Looking south on Quincy Ave. from 6th St., I noticed a tell-tale pair of parallel cracks in the asphalt, each crack about the same distance from the middle of the street. The distance between the two cracks was about the same as the width of a standard gauge train track. I had noticed this phenomenon before, on Archer St. downtown, where the Sand Springs Railway once ran down the center of the street.
Quincy Ave. was the route of a branch of the Tulsa Street Railway, which ceased operation in 1936. The line left downtown on 3rd and branched north and south on Madison. The north branch ran along 1st to Lewis to 7th to the TU campus.
The south branch turned east on Fostoria (now known as 5th Pl.) running past the house where Paul Harvey grew up, then headed south on Quincy, terminating just north of 15th St.
As I passed 8th St. heading southbound on Quincy, the parallel cracks swerved to the right. A bit further on, I noticed another pair of parallel cracks, about a foot away from the pair I had been following. The two pairs of cracks, swerved back toward the middle just north of 10th St. It looked very much like a spot where a single track split in two to allow streetcars heading in opposite directions to pass each other.
My jaw dropped when I spotted this.
I don't know for sure that there are still rails beneath the asphalt, but if there were rails, I would expect them to have some effect on the integrity of the asphalt as they expand and cool at a different rate than the other material in the roadbed.
Keep your eyes open. You may just see a remnant of a Tulsa that no longer exists.
On May 20, 2008, the famed Rock Cafe on US 66 in Stroud was gutted by fire, but the stone walls remained standing. Owner Dawn Welch was determined to rebuild. After some false starts, reconstruction is on track for completion in late spring, according to Dawn's latest update, posted on January 20. The interior framing is complete and the roof trusses are now in place. If she meets that late spring target, the cafe would open just about a year after the fire.
It gives me hope for the old Temple Israel building at 14th and Cheyenne, which was gutted by fire in late January. The brick walls are still up, and I'm hopeful that Kevin Stephens, who owns the historic building and adjacent lots, will press ahead with his planned restoration and repurposing of the building. It's an important part of our city's history. After Temple Israel moved away in the '30s, to 16th & Rockford (now home to a playground for Christ the King Parish), the building was home to the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Its companion, the original home of Congregation B'nai Emunah, just three blocks away near 11th and Cheyenne, was torn down some years ago for parking for the Teamsters hall next door.
The U. S. Geological Survey is mapmaker to the Federal Government, but their topographical maps are used by ranchers, hikers, hydrologists, miners -- anyone interested in the shape of the land and what lies beneath. Because they also depict cultural features in rural areas -- roads, houses, schools, churches, cemetaries -- they can be useful for recreating history, too.
Up on the fourth floor of the Central Library, quadrangle maps of the Tulsa area from the mid-to-late '70s are laid out atop the map cabinets. The maps are actually an update of maps from the 1950s, with changes marked in purple. While some features from the '50s are obscured, many are still visible.
Old USGS maps provide the kind of information about rural areas that the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps provide for developed areas. I'd love to find Tulsa area USGS maps from the '50s and earlier.
I did find a bit of a 1913-4 USGS map showing Tulsa and environs from Pine to 111th St. S, and from the 96th Meridian (Osage County line, west of Elwood) to east of Yale. It's on p. 9 of the March 2006 issue of The Outpost, the newsletter of the Three Forks Treasure Hunters Club, in an article on historical USGS quadrangle maps. It's interesting to see what roads were there already, almost 100 years ago. Tulsa had grown only out as far as 21st and Utica, except for the western part of the Whittier neighborhood and an area labeled Kendall north of 11th between Lewis and Harvard. There's a place called West School on an unimproved road at about 76th and Delaware. The most interesting change: Back then it was called Jill Creek, not Joe Creek. (Or did the USGS man just mishear?)
Dan Weber, a senior at the University of Tulsa, has a column in the school's student newspaper, The Collegian, about the impact of TU's campus expansion and its efforts to attract more residential students on its relationship with the city from which it takes its name:
[The class of 2009 has] lived out our four years in a transitional setting, hemmed in by orange barrels, while the administration finally realized its long-awaited opportunity to recast the campus image.
Now construction is essentially complete (since the financial crisis has remaining projects on hiatus) and we're finally inhabiting the more residential and attractive campus that's supposed to aid TU's obstinate struggle to breach the hallowed U.S. News Top 50.
We seniors, then, are uniquely able to appreciate what the campus has gained and lost in the process to attract all those precious National Merit Scholars.
TU has lost a sense of belonging to Tulsa and gained the feeling of a glorified boarding school for students from Texas and Missouri.
Weber mentions Starship Records and the Metro Diner, once on 11th St but demolished to make way for TU's new grand entrance on 11th St., the University having decided that its grand entrance on Delaware Ave. (the U) was no longer grand enough. Weber calls the two businesses "Tulsa institutions that meant more to locals than the view of the Collins Hall fountain ever will."
The clichéd complaint that spurred the Chapman Commons "front door" project was that traveling along 11th Street, those unfamiliar with the campus wouldn't be able to recognize that they were adjacent to a university.
Since 11th also happens to be midtown's leg of Route 66, TU was squandering a golden opportunity to latch onto the mythos of the Mother Road. Ironically, now gazing upon Chapman Commons one wouldn't immediately recognize that they were adjacent to Route 66.
I'd encourage Mr. Weber to dig deeper into the history of TU's relationship with the city and its immediate neighbors. Until ORU opened its doors in 1965, TU was the only institution of higher learning in the city. Tulsa didn't have any sort of state-funded higher ed until Tulsa Junior College (TJC) in 1969.
Before then, TU was Tulsa's only college. It was the place where Tulsans went to college because they could live with their folks and save money while they earned a degree. TU's stadium was built for and at one time owned by the public school system, for use by the high school athletic program as well as the Golden Hurricane. The TU baseball team played at Oiler Park; the basketball team played at the county's Fairgrounds Pavilion and then at the city's Assembly Center. The law school was downtown across the street from Trinity Episcopal Church. The engineering school was up on N. Lewis.
50 years ago, the main campus was contained between 5th and 7th, Delaware and Gary, surrounded by neighborhoods on all sides. Businesses and churches scattered around the neighborhoods catered to students and locals alike. At some point, in the late '50s or early '60s, the single family neighborhoods around campus were rezoned to allow apartments. One house at a time was cleared to be replaced with a single-story strip of four or five small apartments.
As the neighborhood lost its integrity, it made it easy for officials to label it blighted, in need of urban renewal. The city could then use its power of eminent domain to take land that TU wanted for expansion and sell it to the college for redevelopment.
TU might have continued on its original course, scattering facilities around central Tulsa, integrating its students in the life of the city. That's been a successful model for the Savannah College of Art and Design, which has classrooms and student housing all over the city's historic district, enlivening the city with students and renovating historic buildings in the process.
Instead TU's leaders wanted a typical integrated, isolated campus, and they had governmental muscle at their disposal to make sure they got the land they wanted.
TU has many great academic programs, but it is no longer the sole option for higher ed for Tulsans, not by a long shot. It's certainly not the most affordable. If there were ever justification for the city to assist a private college with its expansion needs, that justification is no longer valid.
(Hat tip to Route 66 News.)
In this week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly I wrote about the proposed look for the new downtown ballpark, and I mentioned the location's connection with two railroads and the Greenwood district:
From the 1910s until sometime in the 1990s, the site was bisected by the M. K. & T. railroad tracks. For the first 50 years of that period, the interurban from Sand Springs ran down the center of Archer until about a half-block east of Elgin, where the tracks curved northward, running roughly where the ballpark's outfield fence will be. The trolley tracks then ran down the middle of Greenwood Ave. from Brady St. to Haskell St., before veering off to the east to connect to the Santa Fe tracks to the north.
You can still see some old bits of the track behind the commercial buildings on the west side of Greenwood. The triangular shape of that block of buildings marks where the Sand Springs and Katy railroads crossed paths. If you look closely, you can see where the middle of Archer and the sidewalk on its north side were patched when the interurban tracks were removed.
In the Tulsa Library's online archive of the Beryl Ford Collection of historic Tulsa photos, I found a series of photos showing the Sand Springs line in Greenwood in what appears to be the late 1940s and early 1950s. Not all of the photos were taken at the same time, but I've put them in order starting near the corner of Greenwood Ave. and Brady St. and moving north to where the tracks leave Greenwood Ave. at Haskell Ave. and head north-northeast along a road called Greenwood Pl. toward a junction with the Midland Valley and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad tracks north of Independence St. Each photo and caption is linked to a slightly larger version on the library's website. Someday I hope to see a full resolution version of each these pictures, which would make it possible to pin down details like years on license plates, street signs, and names and numbers on buildings.
The Sand Springs Railroad's waiting room at the Tulsa end of the line was on the northwest corner of Archer and Boston. I do not know whether or not passengers were carried all the way to Greenwood Ave.
(UPDATE 2015/02/07: In an interview for the Voices of Oklahoma Series, Marques Haynes, basketball hall-of-famer and Sand Springs native, confirms that the streetcar had a stop on Greenwood. He mentions that because he couldn't go to the whites-only movie theater in Sand Springs, he and his friends would ride the Sand Springs interurban into Tulsa; the trolley stopped on Greenwood, right across from the Dreamland Theater. That stop was probably in front of the building on the left of the first photo below, on the NW corner of Greenwood and Brady.)
Sand Springs Railroad interurban tracks, looking north toward Brady St. & Greenwood Ave., Busy Bee Lunch (in the Center Hotel building), and Vernon AME Church. While the Vernon Church is still there, as is the building in the foreground, in between is now the route of I-244.
If you're looking for out-of-the-ordinary Christmas gifts, here are a couple of special shopping opportunities around Tulsa for tomorrow, Saturday, December 13, 2008:
From 4 pm to 6 pm, Jack Frank will be signing his latest Tulsa Films DVD release, Tulsa Deco, as well as the two volumes of Fantastic Tulsa Films. The signing will be at the midtown Borders, 21st and the Broken Arrow Expressway. The hour-long Tulsa Deco show is a great gift for the longtime Tulsan with a love for local history and architecture or for the newcomer who's heard about Tulsa art deco and wonders what all the fuss is about.
And from 3 pm to 11 pm, Ida Red, at 3346 S. Peoria in Brookside, will be the site of the Handmade Holiday Market, featuring the work of The Knit Owl, Such Pretty Things, Blue Turtle Soap, Holly Rocks, and Clover Studios. There will be live music from Joy and Day, Fiawna Forté, and Erin Austin.
Both events are great opportunities to support local artists and artisans.
UPDATE: Tulsa Deco will re-air on Sunday, December 7, at noon on KTUL channel 8.
If you love Tulsa's beautiful Art Deco architecture, if you're fascinated by our rich history, you're going to want to own a copy of Jack Frank's newest DVD in his Tulsa History Series: Tulsa Deco.
The quality of this production fits its subject: Everything about it is a delight to the eye, from the Deco-inspired fonts used in the titles and captions to the menu graphic -- a juxtaposition of representatives of the three main types of Deco: streamline (the 32nd and Utica all-electric house), zigzag (Boston Ave. Methodist), and PWA (Union Depot), against a background of rotating beams of light and floating clouds.
Jack Frank's camera lets you look up close at the wonderful detail on some of our most famous buildings. You get a tour of the inside of the Adah Robinson House at 11th Pl. and Owasso Ave., and the history of the Riverside Studio (aka the Spotlight Theater), both Bruce Goff designs. Deco churches are represented by Boston Ave. Methodist and Christ the King Catholic Parish. You'll see the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Westhope, and you'll hear some stories about the house from Florence Barnett, who grew up in the home.
The other featured buildings: The ONG Building at 7th and Boston, Philcade, Gillette-Tyrrell (Pythian) Building, Warehouse Market, Union Depot, the Fire Alarm Building, Will Rogers High School, Fairgrounds Pavilion, Tulsa Monument Co., City Veterinary, the Brook, Boulder on the Park (once home to Holland Hall and then KTUL radio), and several streamline residences, including the aforementioned home at 32nd and Utica.
There are fleeting glimpses of many other, more modest Art Deco buildings, and you begin to appreciate what a wealth of deco we enjoy in Tulsa.
Mixed in with modern footage of these Art Deco treasures are historic films related to these buildings from the period when they were built.
The show not only spotlights the buildings but the people who care for them: homeowners, business owners, restorers, preservationists, and even tourists. I enjoyed the interview with a couple from near Boston who were touring Route 66 and set aside extra time to tour Art Deco buildings in Tulsa. They downloaded a list of buildings from the Tulsa Preservation Commission website, then programmed the addresses into their GPS. It's a great example of how cultural heritage tourism can bring people to our city, if we're wise enough to preserve the artifacts of that heritage and to help visitors find and engage them.
(The only false note was an attempt at the end of the show to link the BOK Center to Art Deco. It's understandable, however, given that the video was sponsored by the Bank of Oklahoma and Matrix, which was part of the team that designed and engineered the BOKarena.)
KTUL channel 8 will show an abridged 30-minute preview of the DVD on Tuesday, December 2, at 7 p.m., but you will want to own the full hour-long DVD.
Here's the trailer:
The DVD includes nearly another half-hour of extras:
There are lengthy excerpts from a 1995 interview with historian Robert Powers, who passed away earlier this year. In addition to an extensive discussion of the Pythian Building, he explains why two of Tulsa's favorite "Art Deco" buildings -- the Adams Hotel and the Midcontinent Tower -- aren't really Art Deco at all.
There's a fascinating look at and inside J. Paul Getty's bunker/home on Virgin St. east of Sheridan. I'd heard about this poured concrete and glass block structure, built near Getty's Spartan Aircraft factory, and designed to protect him from storms and air raids, but I'd never seen what the inside looked like.
Another extra features the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture and TFA's collection of historic architectural drawings, along with more apt comments from the architects, historians, and Art Deco lovers who were interviewed for the video.
You can buy Tulsa Deco at Steve's Sundries, BOK branches, Walgreens, QuikTrip, and online at www.tulsafilms.com.
In last week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, I urged making cultural heritage tourism the focus of Tulsa's efforts to attract visitors. Rather than marketing Tulsa as an "ocean of sophistication in a cultural desert," Tulsa should embrace its place in Oklahoma as "the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety."
For whatever reason, the people we pay to promote Tulsa to the world -- the Tulsa Metro Chamber's Convention and Visitors Bureau -- seem uncomfortable promoting the unique aspects of our region. They position Tulsa as superior to and separate from the rest of Oklahoma, an oasis of sophistication in a cultural desert.
It's a distinctly Midtown Money Belt point of view, and it makes Tulsans seem like a bunch of insecure, provincial rubes, putting on airs -- the urban equivalent of Hyacinth Bucket.
While we should be proud of the cultural amenities that make Tulsa a great place to live, our tourism marketing should focus on what sets our region apart from the rest of the world.
A Milanese woman who lives a few miles from La Scala and the salons of Versace and Prada isn't likely to visit Oklahoma for the opera or Utica Square shopping, but she might come here to eat a chicken fried steak on Route 66, experience Oklahoma! in an open-air theater, or attend a powwow.
A resident of Berlin wouldn't cross the pond to see a Tulsa production of the plays of Bertolt Brecht, but he might travel here to two-step across Cain's curly maple dance floor, search out Ponyboy Curtis's hangouts, or attend the annual Kenneth Hagin Campmeeting -- depending on his particular passions.
Tulsa should position itself not as an enclave of Eastern sophistication but as the capital of a region where visitors can experience the untamed, exuberant spirit of the American West in all its variety.
Read the whole thing, and read more about how other cities and regions have successfully used their history as a tourist draw at culturalheritagetourism.org.
From alumni of the Pratt Institute, who visited Tulsa for the National Preservation Conference:
First of all, Art Deco. It's everywhere. This Deco boom town was nouveau riche ripe with OIL! when they built it. We walked some of the shiny, shapely and well loved lobbies on our tour of downtown.
Secondly, people from Tulsa are nice, and in a good way! Not annoying at all.
And finally, like everywhere else, Tulsa is what you make of it. They celebrated their centennial last year; it's a baby of a city and has toddler like tendencies. It's fun and ridiculous, but after a certain amount of time you want to hand it back to mom and return to the adult party.
Irritated Tulsan has posted the second set of scans from the program for the 1969 University of Tulsa football homecoming game against the University of Houston.
This section includes player photos and plenty more ads, including a KTUL channel 8 ad featuring their sports director, Hal O'Halloran, a fine man that I had the privilege to get to know about 10 years later. This page has a half page ad for Kerr-McGee's Blue Velvet motor oil, Irish Mike Clancy's Pizza Village (11th & Mingo), the Country Fare restaurant (3627 S. Harvard), and the Casa Loma Barber Shop, which was in the old Max Campbell Building at 11th & Birmingham.
I.T. also continues to cover Mayor Kathy Taylor's 11th hour efforts to keep Tulsa Regional Medical Center open with a list of 10 funding options.
Irritated Tulsan says that this non-blogging life is interfering with his ability to write quality content, but that's manifestly not the case. Like an oyster, he continues to turn minor irritations into pearls of hilarity (and sometimes wisdom).
- Honest Downtown Tulsa Signs
- An open letter to Mayor Taylor, about her belated response to the indigent medical care problem, wherein we are introduced to the term, "Blond Gnome District."
- "Turdlips," a touching story of baseball ineptitude and childhood conflict resolution (like IT, I was a clueless right-fielder, when they let me play at all)
The best of all is not original material but scans of the first 16 pages of the program for the 1969 University of Tulsa football homecoming game, with a promise of more to come. The section that was posted includes ads for Page-Glencliff Dairy (and their Golden Hurricane ice cream), DX, Skelly, KVOO, Rainbo, Eddy's Steakhouse, R. A. Young and Son, Williams Brothers, Thornton, Smith, and Thornton, and Brown Dunkin (with sketches of their downtown, Southland, and Northland stores). There are profiles of TU President J. Paschal Twyman (marking his first anniversary with the school), athletic director Glenn Dobbs, and Head Coach Vince Carillot and his assistants. There's a roster of the 1969 team. Dobbs was honored as Mr. Homecoming 1969 -- Steve Turnbo's byline is over the article about that honor.
An article about the history of TU has this intriguing conclusion:
Recent addition to the University's curricula is a new bachelor of arts degree program in urban studies as a part of a $92,000 contract with the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The first of its kind for undergraduates in the nation, the TU-HUD project will lead to the establishment of TU campuses in Washington D.C., and possibly other major cities.
Just found this, from Tulsa Business Journal's October 27 edition: The Max Campbell building, with its distinctive roof of multicolored clay tiles, is going to be restored as a hotel and retail space. That's the original function of this 1926, block-long building on 11th Street between Birmingham and Columbia.
Aaron Meek, owner of Group M. Investments Inc. said he plans to restore the building turning the space into a hotel with an events center and restaurant in the bottom level.
"It is my understanding that the building was originally a hotel on the top stories, and the bottom was used as retail space," Meek said. "We have gotten enough interest to where we are going to go back to that original purpose."
The project isn't new territory for Meek, who he said worked primarily on the restoration of older homes and properties in the mid-town area.
"We love the old buildings and love getting them back to their original state," he said. "We're working on another project down the street that we're turning into lofts.
In 1957, this building was home to a drug store, an auto parts store, a barber shop, an office supply company, and, upstairs, the Casa Loma hotel.
It's a neighborhood landmark that has been in that spot since before Route 66 was routed down 11th Street.
In the story, Meek notes how costly it is to restore a building. Hopefully, he'll think to apply for the historic register status to which the building is entitled, which would qualify him for state and federal tax credits. This restoration seems like it would also be a good candidate for the Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program. That program was used to help accomplish the restoration of the Vickery Phillips 66 station at 6th and Elgin, which is being reused as an Avis car rental location.
Unfortunately, reauthorization of the Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program is being blocked by our own Sen. Tom Coburn. Here's a link to Coburn's statement and the key excerpt:
Several tourism related measures, including a couple that have already become a favorite piggy bank to pay for congressional earmarks, such as the Save America's Treasures program, the Preserve America program, and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation program. The Route 66 program is currently restoring aging gas stations, motels and restaurants. Unfortunately, tourism has declined with many Americans unable to afford the cost of gas and, as evidenced by this bill, Congress' misplaced priorities threaten to drive up the cost of travel.
While I understand his perspective, this program is administered by the National Park Service and is in keeping with the NPS's mission of protecting the nation's heritage and making it accessible to visitors from our own country and from overseas. Interest in Route 66 has been growing (a long-term, Internet-fueled trend that has received a giant boost from Pixar's Cars), but at the same time, landmark roadside buildings continue to be lost to purposeful demolition and to demolition by neglect.
As Route 66 expert and author Emily Priddy points out, cruising the Mother Road is a very affordable vacation destination, and people looking for cheap ways to see America are rediscovering Old 66:
I don't know where Coburn is getting his information. Yes, some Americans are having trouble buying gas, and no, they're not traveling as far. But in my extensive travels on Route 66, I have met literally hundreds of small business owners. I've spoken with many of them this year. They are all in a position to know what's going on along the Mother Road -- and what's going on is that Route 66 is thriving, largely because of increases in foreign travelers (who are used to unholy gas prices); locals (when you can't afford Disneyworld or the Grand Canyon, you explore your own backyard); and bargain hunters (fuel-efficient speed limits and great values on food, lodging and entertainment make Route 66 a penny-pincher's dream).
The Route 66 Corridor Restoration Program is not an earmark. Congress appropriates money for the fund, but the NPS processes applications for the grants, which must be matched, and must go to projects that meet the NPS's standards for the treatment of historic buildings. No money has been earmarked by Congress for specific projects. Originally envisioned as a 10-year, $10 million program, only $1.2 million in federal money has been granted over the first seven fiscal years. The program ends at the end of Fiscal Year 2009. The new bill asks Congress to authorize $8 million over 10 years, starting in FY 2010.
Compare that to the $15 million allocated by Vision 2025 for the highway, which would work wonders on Tulsa's stretch of 66 if it were used as matching grant money for neon repair and building restoration. (It won't be, sadly.)
This may be one of the government's most cost-effective programs to encourage historic preservation and tourism, as the government foots less than half of the bill and doesn't have to pay for ongoing operation and maintenance of the sites that are improved.
My column in this week's UTW is a recap of the National Preservation Conference, which came to Tulsa back in late October. Below are some blog entries with reactions from conference staff and other conference attendees, but first I want to spotlight a blog I've just recently learned about: Rex and Jackie Brown are fans of mid-century modern architecture, and they post photos of buildings of that sort from around Oklahoma on their blog, Oklahoma Modern.
I've got some photos from the conference, too, and I'll get those uploaded and linked here sometime this weekend.
Here are those links:
Looking more than a little out of place, there's a shiny Airstream trailer parked on the Williams Center Green at 3rd and Boston.
It belongs to StoryCorps, a non-profit organization which aims to collect the life-stories and memories of ordinary Americans. The process works like this:
- You pick a friend, relative, or acquaintance that you'd like to interview.
- You reserve a 40 minute time-slot for recording your interview.
- You compose some good questions for the interview.
- You conduct the interview.
- When you're done, you get a CD of the interview; a copy is archived in the Library of Congress.
Interview a parent or an elderly neighbor. Have your kid interview you. Talk to someone who remembers downtown or Greenwood in their glory days, before urban renewal.
The StoryCorps trailer will be in Tulsa through November 29. Follow that link to book a time and learn more.
Saving buildings is important, but we also need to save the memories associated with those buildings. StoryCorps is one way to do that.
Ark Wrecking is doing banner business this year. Sheridan Village, a two-story suburban shopping center on the southwest corner of Admiral and Sheridan, is set for demolition.
Construction began on Sheridan Village in September 1953 and the center opened in November 1954. It was once home to a Borden's cafeteria, a J. C. Penney's department store, a Brown's Boot Shop, and (in an out-building) an OTASCO. I can remember going to Penney's for back-to-school clothes in the early '70s -- we'd hit there and the Froug's at Admiral and Memorial. McCune and McCune were the architects.
When it opened, the center included Penney's, Crown Drug, a T. G. & Y. five-and-dime store, a Humpty Dumpty supermarket, Oklahoma Tire and Supply Co. (OTASCO), several business and professional offices, and a branch of the Tulsa Public Library.
Tom Baddley at Lost Tulsa has more Sheridan Village history and a Flickr photo set of the Sheridan Village.
I've got to finish my column tonight, but I have display ads and some text from a story about the center in a June 1957 "Old Fashioned Bargain Days" supplement to post.
If you have any interest at all in fixing up older buildings (even if you don't think of them as particularly historic), visiting and promoting historic landmarks, economic revitalization of small towns and rural areas, walkable communities, "green" buildings, infill that respects existing development -- if you like pecans or fudge or Frankoma pottery -- if you want to connect with fellow Tulsans interested in protecting and preserving our great neighborhoods or our classic downtown and midtown buildings -- if you'd love to support preservation while winning a weekend away in a historic hotel -- if you want to learn how lasers are used to support restoration of historic buildings -- if you are interested in a degree program in preservation (or know someone who is) -- if you want to visit with the architects converting the Atlas Life Building into a Courtyard by Marriott -- if you want to know what communities across the country are doing to turn history into economic development ....
You need to come down to the Tulsa Convention Center on Friday, between 9 and 5, to spend some time at the exhibit hall for the National Preservation Conference. It's free and open to the public, and it's a great way to learn a lot. Friday between 9 and 5 is your last opportunity to see the exhibits. Yes, it would be nice if they had evening or weekend hours, but they don't. Come on your lunch hour, have a look around, and meet fellow Tulsans and people from across America with an interest in preservation.
The 2008 National Preservation Conference is underway right here in Tulsa.
On Wednesday some conventioneers took buses to field sessions here in Tulsa and around northeastern Oklahoma, while others attended panel discussions and workshops on various topics related to historic preservation. Late in the afternoon was the opening plenary session, held at First Presbyterian Church.
Coming up today, tomorrow, and Saturday, there are some open-to-the-public opportunities worth your time and interest:
Thursday, 6 pm to 7 pm: The National Preservation Awards ceremony, at Will Rogers High School, 3909 E. 5th Pl., one of our somewhat hidden Art Deco treasures.
Friday, 5:45 to 6:45 pm: A lecture by Route 66 sherpa Michael Wallis on the "Romance of the Mother Road," at First United Methodist Church, 10th & Boulder, downtown.
Saturday, 10:30 am to noon: Closing plenary session, in the assembly hall of the Tulsa Convention Center, featuring talks by art historian Nell Irvin Painter and Anthony Tung, author of Preserving the World's Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis
The exhibit hall, at the Convention Center, is also free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Exhibitors include universities with degree programs related to historic preservation, booksellers, companies that make building products used in restorations, government agencies, consulting firms, and non-profit groups.
Many of the exhibitors are from Tulsa and the surrounding region, so it's an opportunity to connect with others who are engaged in preserving our irreplaceable places. A partial list of local exhibitors:
Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods of Tulsa
The Coury Collection
Brown Mansion, Coffeyville, Kans.
Tulsa City-County Library System
Yellow Pad, Inc.
Saline Preservation Association, Pryor, Okla.
Oklahoma Route 66 Association
Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Dept.
Oklahoma Main Street Center
Loman Studios (stained glass)
MATRIX Architects Engineers Planners
Guthrie Chamber of Commerce
Bryant Pecan Co.
I'll add links later. You can see a full list of exhibitors in the conference program, beginning on p. 54 (3 MB PDF).
Finally, there may still be some tickets available for purchase for some of Saturday's field sessions and events. Even if you're a lifelong Tulsan, you'll learn new things about your city on these tours.
I took the Tulsa Art Deco tour on Tuesday afternoon. The tour included an inside look at the fascinating house Bruce Goff designed for Adah Robinson at the corner of 11th Pl. and Owasso Ave., an all-too-brief stop at the Tulsa Historical Society (which has a fascinating exhibit on Tulsa in the 1920s), and a reception in the lobby of the ONG Building on the NW corner of 7th and Boston. The Hille Foundation owns the building and is exploring plans to convert the upper floors into condominium lofts, as a real estate investment for the foundation. The building is a beautiful example of late '20s zigzag deco, and it was exciting to get a look inside. This would be the first condominium conversion of a downtown office building.
Staffers with the National Trust for Historic Preservation have been blogging about their experiences in Tulsa on the Preservation Nation blog. Here's an account of the Sacred Spaces bus tour, which included a number of downtown churches, Temple Israel, and the Oral Roberts University campus.
MORE: Ron of Route 66 News has found much of interest at the conference, including a seminar on the preservation of neon signage.
The National Preservation Conference, which comes to Tulsa next week, is making tickets for several Saturday, October 25, field sessions available to the public. There is a cost for each event, but you can sign up for these events without having to pay the conference registration fee. There are five field sessions available, all starting at 1:30 p.m. For Tulsans, this is a great way to learn about your hometown history.
Tulsa Overview (ticket price $35) 1:30 - 5:00 p.m. From being the end point of the notorious Trail of Tears, to railroad and market town serving surrounding cattle ranches, to thriving oilboom city -- Tulsa has a diverse and vibrant history. See how all these influences still resonate in modern-day Tulsa. Featured sites include Gilcrease Museum, Roosevelt School, Tulsa's oldest house, Cain's Ballroom, Tulsa Union Depot, Williams Technology Center (HOK), and the Tulsa Municipal Building (Old City Hall).
Downtown Tulsa Safari (ticket price $20)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Lions and tigers and... dolphins? Pigs and turkeys and buffalo, too? In downtown Tulsa? Absolutely! There's an urban jungle in the heart of the city if you know where to look. Go on an offbeat architectural safari to spot the whimsical terra cotta wildlife on Tulsa's buildings.
Going Green, Tulsa Style (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
It's great to be green in Tulsa. See some recent renovations of older buildings that have made concern for the environment a priority: Dennis R. Neil Equality Center, the SemGroup Building, the Fire Alarm Building, and East Village.
Tulsa's Historic Gardens (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Philbrook Gardens, Tulsa Rose Garden, Woodward Park, and Swan Lake are just some of the special spots to be visited or viewed. Find out how Tulsa's most renowned horticultural attractions were developed from pastures, farmland, and a Creek Indian allotment.
Mid-Century Tulsa: Back to the Future! (ticket price $35)
1:30 - 5:00 p.m.
Celebrate Tulsa's mid-century homes of the Future. Featuring mid-century neighborhoods such as Lortondale and Ranch Acres, see how residents have worked diligently to restore the architecture of their homes and their communities. Creative marketing, community education and sheer determination have created a mid-century feeding frenzy with homes being snatched up by design savvy and preservation-minded buyers.
The public may also buy tickets ($75 each) for the closing party at Cain's Ballroom, featuring western swing legends Asleep at the Wheel.
All of the above tickets will be for sale during normal business hours at the National Preservation Conference registration desk in the Tulsa Convention Center.
From the Tulsa Preservation Commission blog:
Please join us Wednesday, August 27th for a Community Workshop to shape and evaluate Tulsa's Historic Preservation Strategy.
This public workshop will be from 5:30 - 7:30pm in the new City Hall, 175 E. 2nd Street, 10th Floor South conference room (map it). On-street parking at meters is free after business hours. Please use the 2nd Street entrance.
Your insights and vision for preserving and enhancing the historic character of Tulsa would be appreciated. We hope to see you there!
For more information, call 918-576-5669. Please feel free to share this invitation with your friends and colleagues.
With the comprehensive plan update underway and national attention on Tulsa's historic assets, thanks to the upcoming National Preservation Conference being held here in October, this may be the moment to make preservation a priority in Tulsa.
Steve Patterson reports that a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is joining the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri in a SLAPP suit against two preservation activists who filed lawsuits in an effort to save a 100-year-old building in downtown St. Louis.
Many thanks to the readers of Urban Tulsa Weekly who have, for the second year in a row, voted for me as Tulsa's Favorite Blogger in the Absolute Best of Tulsa readers' poll:
Michael Bates, Urban Tulsa Weekly's own uber city news geek and pundit extraordinaire, is the man. With his encyclopedic knowledge of Tulsa's history and of the inner workings of city and county government and his piercing insight into the goings on of the city's elite, his weekly columns are often a source of both dread and delight to local leaders. The man is a machine, though, so a weekly column is hardly enough of an outlet for him to say all that he has to say, nor for readers to get their regular fix of his words and wisdom. So, there's always his blog at Batesline.com.
Congratulations to Tulsa World music writer Jennifer Chancellor for getting a "close call" in this category. Although many editors and writers at the daily have blogs, Jennifer is one of the few who is really taking advantage of the medium, updating on a near-daily basis. Most recently she's been posting lots of photos and video from Rocklahoma. I shall have to work much harder if I want a threepeat. (Or maybe lobby to have a separate category for music bloggers.)
I was also happy to see a win in the coffee house category for one of my favorite hangouts, the Coffee House on Cherry Street, with Shades of Brown, another favorite hangout, as a close runner-up. The two coffee houses set the standard not only for good coffee but for community gathering places.
(Note to PLANiTULSA team -- as part of your outreach to Tulsa's young people, hold some "bull sessions" at these coffee houses. Just plan to show up, hang out, and expect to have some great conversations about the city's future.)
I was also happy to see Callupsie win in the Local, Indie Produced Album for their recording debut:
No other established band in Tulsa is as hard-working as Callupsie. And their particular brand of indie jazz-punk is one of the most unique sounds to emerge from the city in quite some time. Produced by Stephen Egerton over just two sessions (the entire album took a total of several days to record), the debut is a ridiculously catchy collection of pop tunes (pop in the best sense) that is just waiting to be played on college stations across the country. To boot, they're four of the nicest musicians you'll ever meet. You all chose well on this one.
The ABoT issue includes some of the more interesting "fill-in-the-blank" responses to questions like, "If I were mayor," and "You are so Tulsa if you..."
My favorite: "If I were mayor... I'd build the Golden Driller a girlfriend." I know just the girl. She's somewhat older, but a lot better looking than the old roughneck. She's "The Goddess of Oil", a 1941 sculpture by Tulsa World staff artist Clarence Allen. The plan was to erect a 40-foot version of the sculpture at the next International Petroleum Exhibition, but the outbreak of World War II got in the way. The model was 19-year-old Marjorie Morrow. Although the full-sized version was never erected, the original sculpture stayed in Morrow's family, and her grandson, muralist William Franklin, hopes to see the original artistic vision realized. You can read all about it and donate to the project at goddessofoil.com.
A few weeks ago I suggested that the Beryl Ford Collection of historic Tulsa photos would benefit from the kind of user interface offered by Flickr:
The ideal online presentation of the Beryl Ford Collection would have several characteristics, taking advantage of Web 2.0 technology:
- Each photo available in a range of resolutions, including the highest resolution possible -- at least 600 dpi.
- Searchable extended descriptions and tags.
- The ability for archive visitors to add comments (memories associated with the photo, historical details) and to add descriptive tags to aid searching.
- The ability for archive visitors to attach notes -- highlighting certain details in the photo that might otherwise be overlooked.
- The ability to search by geography -- to zoom in on a map and see photos in and around a particular location.
I learned today that someone already had this idea: The Library of Congress. In January, the LoC launched a pilot project, posting photos from their archive on Flickr. Flickr's "The Commons" project now includes four other archives: The Smithsonian Institution, the Brooklyn Museum, the Powerhouse Museum (Australia), and the Bibliothèque de Toulouse.
The Commons project has two main objectives:
- To increase access to publicly-held photography collections, and
- To provide a way for the general public to contribute information and knowledge. (Then watch what happens when they do!)
In a FAQ about the LoC's Flickr pilot program, they give the reasons the LoC is doing this:
- To share photographs from the Library's collections with people who enjoy images but might not visit the Library's own Web site.
- To gain a better understanding of how social tagging and community input could benefit both the Library and users of the collections.
- To gain experience participating in Web communities that are interested in the kinds of materials in the Library's collections.
Each of the LoC's photos on Flickr includes catalog information, with a link back to the image's home on the LoC website, where higher-resolution versions of the images, including the original, uncompressed TIFF scans can be viewed and downloaded.
So far, the LoC has posted about 4,000 photos on Flickr, including a set of 4x5 color Kodachrome images from the late '30s and early '40s and a set of Bain News Service photos from the 1910s. The Bain photos have very little information attached, and the LoC is hoping to learn more about the people and places depicted through comments and notes posted via Flickr.
Flickr's The Commons seems like a perfect match for the Beryl Ford Collection.
Sometime this past winter (judging from how low the sun is in the sky and the presence of piles of ice storm debris in many photos), Google sent its 360-degree car mounted camera around Tulsa, taking street view photos of nearly every street. (Hat tip to Steve Roemerman, who to a Street View of his old house with his truck parked inside.
Street View images are more recent than Google's satellite view: The satellite still shows the old Mayo Meadow Shopping Center, while Street View shows Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. Bell's Amusement Park is still there on the satellite image, but the replacement slab of asphalt shows up in Street View.
If you were wondering what was there along I-44 before ODOT bulldozed it, Street View can help (at least until they return for another pass). Here are the Monticello Apts. near 51st St and Birmingham Ave. And here's the entrance to Dick Gordon's guitar studio at 51st & Trenton.
(Too bad they didn't have Street View when Beryl Ford started collecting photos.)
There are all sorts of oddities that turn up. So far this is my favorite: The Street View of Cain's Ballroom shows people in sleeping bags lined up for tickets to some concert.
The folks over at TulsaNow's public forum are having fun spotting interesting street scenes and speculating on when the photos were taken. User PonderInc wants to know, "So, can we pay them to come back to Tulsa in April and May, when everything's blooming and green?!"
UPDATE 2009/10/12: Commenter Lacee Galloway writes:
Actually. This picture was taken on November 11, 2007. I know this because I am IN the picture. It was the day of a Hanson concert at the Cain's venue. My sleeping bag is first inline.
I've added three more blogs by and about Oklahoma to my blogroll. You'll see new entries from these blogs pop up on the powered-by-NewsGator blogroll headlines page. (I'm thinking it may be time to break out the Okie blogs to a separate page. What do you think?)
Random Dafydd (that's the Welsh version of David) grew up in Tulsa but now lives in Bartlesville. His blog covers Tulsa history, ancient manuscripts, and many other topics. Here are a couple of his recent historical entries: Tulsa before the railroad: Taylor Postoak Home and Tulsa Architecture, Hooper Brothers Coffee. The latter entry includes photos of the historic building on the edge of downtown at Admiral and Iroquois.
Green Country Values, which covers politics and regional events. Here's an entry about a trip last Saturday to the Lavender Festival and Stone Bluff Cellars. Blogger Jenn also has the scoop on U. S. Rep. John Sullivan's Private Property Rights Protection and Government Accountability Act, which addresses eminent domain abuse in the wake of the Kelo v. New London decision.
It's something that should have happened long ago, after years of struggling with a crushing debt and a corporate culture of fear, Oral Roberts University has another major hurdle to overcome. Since its beginnings, ORU has taken on the role of a "surrogate parent/guardian" for its students. Whether you were 18 or 40 -if you lived in the dorms -you had a curfew and an RA telling you to clean your room. Adding insult to injury, it cost you a pretty penny too, and up until 2001, you had to wear business attire to attend classes.
With tuition costs soaring and more students footing the bill for their own education, they want to be in control of their college experience. ORU has improved over the years with the adoption of more customer-service oriented approaches, but the recent scandal has made many of the most forgiving students and parents take a step back and ask "what am I really getting for my money?"
If you have a blog that you think would be of interest here at BatesLine, drop me a line at blog at batesline d0t com.
Every city has them: Small creeks and streams that have been converted into culverts and buried beneath streets and buildings. The bend in the San Antonio River that became Paseo del Rio narrowly escaped being converted to a storm sewer in the 1930s. Two recent blog entries highlight underground streams in two of the world's greatest cities.
Strange Maps has a map and descriptions for London's lost rivers, 15 streams that flow into the Thames, including the River Fleet:
The Fleet flows under King's Cross, which was originally known as Battle Bridge, after a place where Queen Boudicca is reputed to have fought the Romans. It ends in the Thames under Blackfriars Bridge. The river gave its name to Fleet Street, which in turn became a collective term for the British press, as most newspapers had their offices there. It almost gave its name to a tube line, but since its opening coincided with the Queen's silver jubilee, the Fleet Line was named the Jubilee Line. On a quiet moment in front of the Coach and Horses pub in Ray Street, Farringdon, you can still hear the Fleet's flow through the grating.
And Ace has this item about fishing in the basements of Manhattan buildings, where there is access to streams that were long ago covered over:
It seems that the many rivers and streams that flowed through Manhattan before it was turned into a vast concrete jungle could not simply be paved over. Those waterways had to be diverted and channeled underneath the buildings that now tower above them.
Here in Tulsa, there are several buried streams in downtown and midtown, including Elm Creek, which runs from the western part of Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, to Centennial Park (where it is in the open briefly), then underground through the Gunboat neighborhood and the 18th & Boston area to its outlet beneath the east end of the 21st Street bridge. (There was a proposal to reopen Elm Creek near 18th & Boston about 15 years ago as a riverwalk promenade, and the Sixth Street Task Force has proposed reopening the creek as a canal down the middle of 6th Street.) Cat Creek runs under Archer downtown and empties into the Arkansas River beneath I-244. Mill Creek, in the eastern part of Midtown, is underground until it reaches McClure Park.
Moving west across Cincinnati Ave. from our previous installment, Block 107, we come to Block 106 of Tulsa's original townsite, 2nd to 3rd Street, Boston to Cincinnati Avenue. This block isn't asphalt, but it is radically different than it was as recently as 1970. Part of the Williams Center superblock complex, Boston Avenue was closed north of 3rd Street. The Williams Center Green replaced the street between 2nd and 3rd, along with part of the adjacent blocks. The rest of Block 106 is now occupied by the Performing Arts Center, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, architect of the nearby Bank of Oklahoma Tower and the World Trade Center. While the PAC has an attractive frontage on 3rd, it presents a blank wall along Cincinnati, and a small stage door entrance on 2nd. (How much better it would have been to adapt one of our glorious movie palaces as a performing arts center and to have left this block as it once was.)
Here's how the block was laid out in the late '50s and early '60s. As before, the image is from Sheet 21 of the Sanborn fire insurance map, last updated in 1962, with my notations in red indicating businesses that were listed in the 1957 Polk City Directory for Tulsa. Click on the thumbnail to pop-up the full 1900 by 1900 image.
The 3rd Street frontage is dominated by the 10-story R. T. Daniel Building and the 13-story Hotel Tulsa; in between was a three-story building that was the original home of Saied Music Co. Note that both skyscrapers had multiple storefronts at street level.
By 1957, we're already beginning to see the erosion of downtown's urban fabric for parking. Between 1939 and 1957, a quarter of the block, and more than two-thirds of the frontage on 2nd Street has been reduced from two or three story buildings to asphalt, leaving the two remaining buildings on 2nd rather forlorn.
The population in 1960 was 21 (Census Tract 25, Census Block 57).
Now for some photos -- I will add more as I find them. There are so many photos of the Hotel Tulsa that I will put them in a separate entry at a later time, but here is a good shot of the Hotel Tulsa that shows some of the rest of the block:
(Photos from the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)
Here's the north side of 3rd between Boston and Cincinnati, showing the R.T. Daniel Building in the foreground, the Hotel Tulsa in the background, and the building where Saied's was located in between:
More photos after the jump.
It's a clumsy way to explore the collection -- descriptions are minimal, there are no previews of images, there's no way to search geographically, and once you call up a photo, the scan is too low-resolution to make out intriguing details which are visible on the original photograph. (I have to think the photos were scanned at a much higher resolution, but bandwidth and storage limitations forced lower-res scans to be posted on the library website.)
There's a better, Web 2.0 way to make the collection available to researchers, and I wrote the head of collections at the Tulsa Historical Society with my idea:
The Beryl Ford Collection is a tremendous resource, and I've enjoyed exploring the collection on the Tulsa Library website, but looking for specific photographs of interest can be a frustrating experience, with vague captions and clumsy search options. The low resolution of the scanned photos can be frustrating too, as intriguing details which are probably legible on the original are not discernible on the library's scans.I'm not sure my e-mail went to the right person, but I hope someone will see this and take me up on my offer to help.
The ideal online presentation of the Beryl Ford Collection would have several characteristics, taking advantage of Web 2.0 technology:
- Each photo available in a range of resolutions, including the highest resolution possible -- at least 600 dpi.
- Searchable extended descriptions and tags.
- The ability for archive visitors to add comments (memories associated with the photo, historical details) and to add descriptive tags to aid searching.
- The ability for archive visitors to attach notes -- highlighting certain details in the photo that might otherwise be overlooked.
- The ability to search by geography -- to zoom in on a map and see photos in and around a particular location.
That last point is essential for researchers. I've begun a series on BatesLine.com called "If Asphalt Could Talk," using Sanborn maps, city directories, and old photos to reconstruct what downtown blocks looked like before the upheavals of the last forty years. Being able to search geographically would make it easier to find photos that depict a given block.
I understand that Tulsa Library may not have the bandwidth, storage, or technical wherewithal to provide this kind of presentation. Thankfully, there is already a website that provides this kind of capability: Flickr.
I've been using Flickr for a couple of years now and have uploaded over 3,000 photos. I have a "pro" Flickr account, included as part of my AT&T DSL account, which allows me to upload an unlimited number of images. Each photo can be up to 20 MB in size. There's no limit on the bandwidth used by people viewing my photos.
I have placed about 1700 of my photos on a map. It's possible to search an area for anyone's photos, for photos from a particular user, or for photos with a particular tag.
Since Flickr is owned by Yahoo, which is partnered with AT&T, our local telephone company, they might be willing to provide an account for THS as a corporate donation. If not, a pro account is only $25 per year.
The process of uploading, describing, and tagging 24,000 images would be tedious, but I'd certainly be willing to volunteer, and I'm sure many other Flickr-literate history buffs would as well.
This is the first installment in what may be a regular series.
Have you ever looked at a parking lot downtown and wondered what used to be there? I'm going to try to use old fire insurance maps and street directories to piece together the past lives of parking lots and other parcels drastically transformed since downtown's mid-20th century heyday.
Up first is Block 107 of Tulsa's Original Townsite, between 2nd and 3rd Streets, Cincinnati and Detroit Avenues. Today this block is one 90,000 sq. ft. surface parking lot just east of the Performing Arts Center. The block slopes downhill from 3rd to 2nd. I estimate the drop at about 15 feet.
The map below uses the 1962 Sanborn fire insurance map as a base, with my notations in red indicating businesses that were listed in the 1957 Polk City Directory for Tulsa. (I used 1957, because that's what I had available, from my 1957 researches last year.) Click on the thumbnail to pop-up the full 1800 by 1800 image.
The block consisted of three-story buildings facing 2nd St. on the north and 3rd St. on the south. The upper two stories of these buildings were hotels or rooming houses: The New Oklahoma Hotel, the Oxford Hotel, the Annex Hotel, the New Miami Hotel, and the Grand Hotel. In the middle of the block on the west side was a parking lot and car rental; the mid-block lot on the east side was a Vandever's warehouse. (The 1939 Sanborn map shows two garages, capacities of 30 and 45 cars each, with steam heat, electric lights, a concrete floor, and steel truss roof.)
A note about blocks in downtown Tulsa. The Original Townsite was laid out as 300' by 300' blocks, with 80' wide right-of-way in between. (The right-of-way includes both sidewalks and streets.) Each block was bisected north to south by a 20' wide alley, and the halves thus created were split into three lots numbered, for a total of six lots, 100' wide along the avenues by 140' deep, numbered 1 through 6, clockwise from the northeast corner.
Those alleys were sacrosanct. As far as I can tell, only the train station, Central High School, and Holy Family Cathedral were allowed to build over the alleys until the urban renewal approach to redevelopment began to emerge in the '60s. The existence of the alleys limited buildings to a 42,000 sq. ft. footprint.
While the intention behind the Original Townsite plat seems to have been for frontage along the avenues, parallel to Main, many blocks, particularly closer to the railroad tracks, developed with frontage along the streets, parallel to the railroad.
That's the case for Block 107. The two mid-block lots were used for parking and a warehouse. The lots at the corners were divvied up into buildings mainly aligned to what should have been the side of the lot. Lot 3 (SE corner) was filled by two separate three-story buildings, each with rooms on the upper stories, and each subdivided on the 1st level into narrow storefronts. 42' appears to be the typical width.
Here are some photos from the Beryl Ford Collection showing this block. This photo, taken August 29, 1961, is looking south (up hill) on Cincinnati from just north of 2nd Street. (Click to see the full size.)
(Photos from the Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.)
There's the Oklahoma Tire and Supply Store No. 1 in the foreground left, on the northwest corner of Block 107, southeast corner of 2nd and Cincinnati, with the Bell Hotel on the upper two stories. (Sanborn map calls this the New Oklahoma Hotel; there's no entry in the 1957 Polk Directory for a hotel at that address.) Further south is a sign for the Rent-A-Car agency, and behind that is the three-story building on the northeast corner of 3rd & Cincinnati that housed the New Miami Hotel, the Annex Hotel, Beneficial Finance, Filter Queen Vacuums sales and service, Acme Electric, Tulsa Elevator, several answering services, and a couple of print shops.
Further down Cincinnati on the left you can see two buildings that are still standing: the KC Auto Hotel and steeple of First Baptist Church. On the right (west) is the Hotel Tulsa, now the site of the Performing Arts Center.
Here's a much earlier photo of the Oklahoma Tire & Supply Co.
If you want to get a sense of the height and scale of the three-story hotel/retail buildings that lined the north nd south edges of this block, look at the Pierce Building on the NE corner of 3rd and Detroit. Now home to TV station CW 19, this building also had a hotel on the upper two stories. Imagine similar buildings lining 3rd and 2nd, the same kinds of buildings that house El Guapo and McNellie's. Imagine what might have been if those three-story buildings hadn't been razed for parking.
One fact I'd like to know, but don't: The population for this block in 1950 or 1960.
(UPDATE 2008/06/10: This was the most populous block in downtown Tulsa in 1960 -- population 199.)
If you have stories about Block 107, please post them in the comments or e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com.
MORE: Found a few more photos that show other parts of Block 107, after the jump. And commenter Mark compares the 1957 listings to his 1947 Polk directory and finds that much had changed in the course of a decade.
From a blog called The Road Trip Destination Guide:
Sadly, few of us opt to navigate the road less traveled. During a recent side trip on Route 66 in Oklahoma, I found plenty of interest. Sadly though, I also discovered that many of the mom and pop motels and old carnival style road side attractions are falling victim to decay and abandonment. Or, worse yet, in urban area they're being torn down to make way for more fast food restaurants and other boring franchised business establishments.
Both Preservation Oklahoma and The National Trust for Historic Preservation have named Route 66 Motels to their most endangered places list. Unfortunately, city governments are often focused on developing new business no matter what the cost to the culture and heritage of the community. An article in the Urban Tulsa Weekly described one faction of the City Council as the "build anything I want anywhere I want" crowd. I'm not an expert on Tulsa, but there seems to be a rift in the city between those who would rather tear down everything old and build new, and the other camp that would like to preserve some of the character and culture of Tulsa.
The Tulsa area has lost a large number of Route 66 motels just within the last couple of decades. In other cases, wonderful neon has been replaced by boring backlit plastic. The Shady Rest tourist court on Southwest Blvd. and Max Meyer's tourist cabins between Sapulpa and Kellyville were the most recent losses. The owners probably didn't even recognize the significance of the buildings.
A little break from politics:
Mike Ransom of Tulsa TV Memories has posted video of the KTUL-TV signoff, February 18, 1979, narrated by Cy Tuma over a music bed of Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville," featuring John Williams (better known as a prolific movie soundtrack composer) on the piano.
The signoff begins with an image of the National Association of Broadcasters Television Code Seal of Good Practice and closes with the call letters of the station and the microwave transmitter superimposed on KTUL's 1,909-ft. tower, once the second tallest free-standing structure in North America. (And one that took its toll on birdlife, according to this 1987 ornithological paper.)
Here's a transcript of Cy Tuma's voiceover:
This seal is a symbol of Good Television. KTUL-TV observes the high standards of programming and advertising recommended by the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Channel 8 welcomes your comments. Write anytime to KTUL-TV Box 8 Tulsa Oklahoma.
This is television station KTUL-TV, Channel 8, Tulsa, Oklahoma, owned and operated by Leake Television Incorporated, transmitting on microwave transmitter WBE-731.
We sincerely hope you have enjoyed today's programs. KTUL-TV pledges continuous service to our community with television programs that entertain, inform, and educate. We seek to serve the public needs by offering assistance to representatives of all community activities, and if we may help your organization please let us know by contacting Betty Boyd, KTUL-TV public service director.
Now on behalf of the management and staff of KTUL-TV, we wish you a very pleasant good night and good morning.
MORE: KTUL's great "8's the Place" promos from the '70s are online on KTUL's history page.
Gary Shore, longtime meteorologist at KJRH in Tulsa, died today of a heart attack in Sioux City, Iowa. He was 55.
Shore changed the TV weather business in Tulsa forever. While he wasn't the first professional meteorologist on the air in Tulsa -- Don Woods has that distinction -- his hiring represented a shift toward putting the science of forecasting in front of the viewers.
I remember seeing his first forecast on a TV in some storefront in the lower level of Southroads Mall. (Not Looboyles, but right next to it, I think.) We joked about his intro the next day at school: "How's the weather, Gary?" "Scary!"
He was only 25 when he started at what was then KTEW (now KJRH) in 1978, where he was chief meteorologist until 1995. Shore later worked at KWMJ-53 in Tulsa, then moved on to Huntsville, working for the last six and a half years at KCAU in Sioux City. A couple of memories from his co-workers:
"I always got a kick out of Gary. He had such a broad knowledge, and a LOVE of the weather, that he could talk about it forever. When ever we had time to fill, we knew we could count on Gary to fill the time. A lot of people didn't realize just how much Gary liked it here. He loved how crazy the weather could be here." -- Anchor Larry Wentz.
"Gary always had a song in his heart. No matter if he was on his way into work or just walking down the hall, he was always humming a tune. It was that love of life that he brought to his weather forecasts and to Siouxland." -- Anchor Jenna Rehnstrom.
Gary Shore had fond memories of his time in Tulsa and is remembered fondly here as well.
The weather won't be very interesting where he's headed, but that'll just open up more time for singing. May he rest in peace.
(Found via the TulsaNow Forum.)
MORE: Dan Satterfield remembers the man to whom he owes his career:
I first met Gary Shore in the Summer of 1979. I had written him a letter asking if by chance he needed a weather intern. I was a second year college student majoring in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.
Gary was the Chief Meteorologist at the NBC affilliate KJRH TV in Tulsa. He had taken the town by storm. He had a Masters degree in Meteorology, and had already nailed some incredible forecasts. One in particular I remember is his forecast of three inches of snow. The local NWS office was forecasting flurries and so was every other TV guy in town. Not Gary, He was insistent that we were in for a significant snow fall.
Tulsa had 3 inches and Gary was the talk of the town....
I stood up at his wedding and he was best man at mine. We kept in touch and if I ever had a really tough snow forecast, I always gave him a call. Most of the time I had it right- because I learned from the best.
I do mean the best. I know of no one who was a better forecaster. Many people in Mannford Oklahoma owe there lives to his Tornado warning and there many other towns where people can say the same. There are a several people who are now working in cities big and small as forecasters both on air and off who owe Gary a debt of gratitude.
STILL MORE: KJRH has a tribute page to Gary Shore, with a brief clip from a promo from his days at Channel 2. They also link to a tribute section of their forum and a tribute page on the KCAU website.
Midtown Tulsa is on Preservation Oklahoma's 2008 list of the state's most endangered historic places.
Details will be released later tonight, along with the other locations on the list. Here's the Preserve Midtown press release:
Midtown Tulsa has been placed on Oklahoma's Most Endangered Historic Places List for 2008.
On Thursday, January 31, 2008, Preservation Oklahoma will announce the 2008 Endangered List at the Gaylord-Pickens Oklahoma Heritage Museum, 1400 Classen Drive, Oklahoma City, 6:00pm.
Since 1993, Preservation Oklahoma and the State Historic Preservation Office have sponsored the Most Endangered Historic Places List. It serves as a sample of the thousands of landmarks across Oklahoma in need of our attention. Three proposals were entered from Midtown Tulsa neighborhoods: Yorktown Homeowners Assoc., Maple Ridge Homeowner's Assoc and from the grassroots organization PreserveMidtown.
The purpose of this list is to inform a larger public about the property and to focus attention on the challenges historic places face. While the listing does not ensure the protection of the site or guarantee funding, the designation has been a powerful tool for raising awareness and rallying resources to save these endangered sites.
Previous years' lists have included Downtown Tulsa and Route 66 motels. Tulsa is the site for the 2008 National Preservation Conference, presented by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Jack Frank has put together a number of wonderful films about Tulsa's past, using old news footage and home movies to show us what our city used to be like -- the ordinary, everyday stuff as well as the big news.
Jack has issued a new DVD, Fantastic Tulsa Films, Vol. 2, a follow-up to last year's popular disc. Included are home movies from Bell's Amusement Park in the '50s, and color film of a convertible ride through Utica Square, years before Vic Bastien declared it "Fashionable."
Fans of Tulsa TV Memories will enjoy film from the Mr. Zing and Tuffy Show, Lee and Lionel, and KOTV's Dance Party.
There's even some footage from 1920s Oklahoma A&M football, including a clip from the 1926 Bedlam match with the "U. O." Sooners.
The DVD will be previewed tonight with a 30 minute program on KOTV channel 6, but there's much more on the DVD.
If you have films containing scenes of Tulsa or Oklahoma, we'd love to see them. Maybe they will even be used in one of our upcoming shows. We know your films are valuable, so here's our arrangement. Allow us to view your home movies, and if we find something interesting that we would like to use, we will have your films professionally transferred to broadcast-quality master tape at no cost to you. You will then receive a copy of your home movies on VHS or DVD, whichever you prefer. Your original films can either be returned to you, or donated to the Tulsa Historical Society, where they will be properly stored, and well cared for.
Tune in tonight, buy the DVD, and step back into Tulsa's past.
An announcement from the Tulsa Preservation Blog:
On October 14, Tulsa's oldest historic district will open its homes to the public for a tour of some of the State's most original and historic homes.
Brady Heights invites you to celebrate the State's Centennial year at the 2007 Historic Home Tour featuring the best in Green Renovation products and practices. Visit a new breed of energetic Tulsans
influencing our legacy through responsible, sustainable living.
Come and tour beautiful historic homes while learning how you can apply energy conservation practices to your own home. Tickets are available from noon to 4 p.m. at Centenary United Methodist Church, 621 N. Denver Avenue. For more information, call (918)592-9135 or visit the Brady Heights website to purchase tickets online.
This tour is not to be missed!
The tour runs from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for children 12 and up; children under 12 are free, but you can get them at a discount if you buy in advance online.
The Brady Heights website is well organized and full of information about the neighborhood's history and current activities -- worth a visit.
I've been meaning to post this for some time. S. Lee, a regular commenter here, commented a while back that in the late '50s his family lived near Longfellow Elementary School, which used to be at 6th & Peoria. When he was born, the family lived at 1012 E. 5th Pl., between Madison and Norfolk, next door to a "very nice lady" named Mrs. Anna D. Aurandt, who lived at 1014 E. 5th Pl. Mrs. Aurandt had a son named Paul who had worked for KVOO, then moved away to seek his fortune in radio.
On one of Paul's visits home, S. Lee's father snapped a photo of Mrs. Aurandt and her boy.
I wish I could tell you more about E. 5th Pl., but I was too young to remember much more than the lady next door was a nice lady who sometimes had treats for me. My late dad took a wonderful picture of Paul and his mother in a porch swing. My mother still has it. My dad was pastor at the 1st Church Of God (Anderson) at 5th and Madison which is now in the middle of the expressway. The church was forced to moved to the building at 3rd and Trenton which was later bought by Leon Russell.
Assuming I'm not totally dazed and confused, I think [Tulsa Whirled editorial page editor] Ken Neal had some association with the 5th and Madison church -- youth or music leader; something like that. You'll have to ask him about it next time you see him. I know how you two pal around all the time. (snort snort).
My dad usually took slides -- which can be transferred to print. He eventually did get a nice print made and sent to Paul who responded with a warm and grateful letter. I'll have to check to see if there is another print that can be scanned or if the slide can be located.
S. Lee scanned a print he found and sent it to me with permission to post it. He said he is pretty sure it is not the picture he was thinking of but it is a photo of Mrs. Aurandt and son.
Mrs. Aurandt and her son Paul Harvey Aurandt.
And now you know the Rest of the Story.
He doesn't seem to have aged much.
MORE: From the 1957 Polk Directory, we learn that Mrs. Aurandt had two boarders in her two-story home: Mrs. Sadie Karcher (1014 rear) and Harry H. Porter (1014 1/2). Her phone number was DIamond 3-3992.
In a previous entry I mentioned a new book of historic photos of Tulsa, and one photo in particular of a tree-shaded Art Deco cafe that looked very inviting. It was a photo of Frank's Pig Stand, 1437 S. Boston Ave., and it was still there in 1957, but not any more, of course. Here's the picture I saw, from the Beryl Ford Collection, dated approximately 1947:
Here are some other photos of Frank's:
Those photos are on the Tulsa Library's website. I am happy that the Beryl Ford Collection is on the web, but I wish higher-resolution scans were available -- there are fascinating details that are visible in the originals that you can't make out at the resolution on the library's website. I also wish there were a geographical and temporal way to browse. Flickr would handle multiple resolutions for each photo and provides a very slick way to map each photo. The Google Maps API adds a temporal dimension -- you can add a year slider to a map and set up a start and end date for each object, so that the objects appear or disappear depending on the point in time you've selected.
I came across an item about Tulsa-based blogs while looking for info about Tulsa's Coliseum -- the stories were on the same page in the April 2007 Tulsa People.
Writer Andy Wheeler mentions this blog and two others: Indie Tulsa, which spotlights locally owned businesses and Alternative Tulsa, an left-leaning anonymous political blog. Included in the list of blogs is a non-blog, the Voices of Tulsa forum, founded and run by MeeCiteeWurkor.
It looked like they intended to do a monthly feature of Tulsa-related web links, but I don't see that it continued in more recent issues.
But there was this piece, in their Tulsarama-themed June edition, showing how the price of a home, a gallon of gas, college tuition, a postage stamp, and a movie ticket had changed since 1957. Family income rose faster than the official rate of inflation, and University of Tulsa tuition rose at five times the rate of inflation. (A year at TU would be $4,334 today if it had kept pace with the cost of living. Instead it's $20,669.)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics online Consumer Price Index calculator, 100.00 in 1957 has the same buying power as 735.54 in 2007.
My UTW column this week was also about the proposal to move City Hall to One Technology Center at 100 S. Cincinnati. Most of the questions I posed were raised in one form or another, and most were answered, although I won't say that my fears were allayed. (Don Himelfarb couldn't answer my question about the true operating costs of the first year, operating in both old and new facilities.)
I had two related feature stories in the issue, a report on the unearthing and unveiling of the buried car, and a look back at the Tulsarama! celebration in 1957 -- it was a huge city-wide celebration, plagued by at least as much rain as we've seen so far this year. It was much more than burying a time capsule and a car.
I'm pleased with the way the Tulsarama! story came out, but it isn't the comprehensive Tulsa 1957 story I wanted to do. I just ran out of time and couldn't get my arms around it. I have gathered a ton of material, looking through old city directories and planning documents, and receiving the reminiscences of Tulsans who were around in 1957. The article I wrote just scratches the surface, and I intend to provide more here and hopefully in future feature stories. The story of the major comprehensive planning effort that began in 1957 is a story that we need to know as we begin assembling yet another comprehensive plan.
Also in the current issue, Brian Ervin has a story on the difference of opinion about how many police officers Tulsa needs, with the Mayor and her interim police chief on one side and the Fraternal Order of Police on the other side.
UPDATE: Regarding the Belvedere, reader Richard Randall offered this interesting (and frightening) perspective:
We wonder why all of the bridges in Tulsa (and Oklahoma) are falling apart. Most of them were designed and built around the same time as the vault (give or take some years) by some of the same engineers. It seems to show just how well they designed and built some things back then and today, when it is built by the cheapest bidder. Growing up my dad had always talked about how bad the car would look when it came out (He worked at his dads construction company at the time the vault was built). He knew that the vault would fill up with water, by the design they used. Had they looked to the oil industry, they would have learned that water will find a way into anything. The best thing to use would have been a 1 to 2-inch steel box welded shut and encased in concrete. This would have withstood the fifty years. They did seem to grasp that idea a little bit. The time capsule was steel, (not sure if it was welded shut). Everything in it was in great condition.
Not only that, but the same engineers were probably responsible for designing the Civic Center's leaky and crumbling subterranean garage. (Maybe not crumbling any more. I haven't heard a report of falling concrete in some time.) One of the interesting facts that emerged in today's Council meeting about the proposed City Hall move -- about $16 million of that $24 million in deferred maintenance is related to the underground parking garage.
The winning guess from 50 years ago has been identified. Someone named R. E. Humbertson, place of birth Cumberland, Maryland, date of birth July 8, 1921, guessed that Tulsa's population in 2007 would be 384,743. He was off by 2,286; the official Census Bureau estimate, as of June 1, 2007, was 382,457. The next nearest guess belonged to Mrs. Houston I. Shirley, Jr., who guessed 385,555.
The tally was dependent on a paper log of submitted entries and a few postcards. A roll of what may have been microfilm was presented to the Tulsa Historical Society. After being soaked in distilled water for three days, it was found to contain -- nothing.
It surprises me that only 812 guesses were submitted. Of that number, 25 were illegible.The median guess was 691,829. 148 people guessed a population of a million or higher. Only 68 people guessed a number less than the actual result.
The 1957 Polk Directory, using information supplied by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, reported an estimated population of 254,100, and a land area of 41.03 sq. mi. The city is now more than four times as big in land area (182.7 sq. mi.), and if we had maintained the same population density, the population would be 1,131,466.
I suspect that, if you were to measure the population today within the city's 1957 boundaries, you'd be at about 120,000, less than half.
At the announcement, at East Tulsa Dodge, it was mentioned that we don't have the 1957 address for any of the entries -- just name, date of birth, and place of birth. (In some cases, we only had Mrs. plus the husband's name.) Event chairman Sharon King Davis asked whether anyone had a 1957 phone book, so we could find out where Mr. or Mrs. Humbertson lived. I said try the library. Central Library not only has phone books for most years going back to the 'teens, but they have at least one city directory for each year. Someone else noted that there was a directory in the time capsule. It would be interesting to look up Humbertson in 1956 and subsequent years and see when the name disappears.
It does appear that our Mr. Humbertson has found his way to his own eternal time capsule, and did so many years ago. The Social Security Death Index has the following entry:
|Name||Birth||Death||Last Residence||Last Benefit||SSN||Issued|
|RAYMOND HUMBERTSON||08 Jul 1921||May 1979||22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA)||22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA)||215-16-4982||Maryland|
If that's not a match, it's an impressive coincidence. The next step would be to see if there are any probate records in Arlington County that would indicate the existence of heirs.
The organizers have very thoughtfully posted the list of entries from the Buried Car website. Here's a direct link (Microsoft Excel format). I found a couple of names I recognized; maybe you will, too.
I've been so busy creating content for this coming week's Urban Tulsa Weekly that I haven't had time to link the current issue's column. It's about what I call the Greenwood Gap Theory, the widely-held notion that nothing happened in Tulsa's one-time African-American commercial district between the 1921 Race Riot and the late '80s construction of the OSU-Tulsa campus.
To fill the gap, I look at the historical record provided by aerial photos, street directories, and oral histories, all of which reveal that Greenwood was rebuilt after the riot, better than before in the view of many, but it was government action -- in the form of urban renewal and freeway construction -- that produced the empty lots in the '70s which OSU-Tulsa replaced.
An annotated aerial view of Deep Greenwood (the part of the district extending a few blocks north of Greenwood and Archer) from 1951 accompanies the story. Here's a larger version of the graphic for your perusal (1 MB PDF). (The scan of the aerial photo was done by INCOG at a cost of $35. INCOG has aerial photos of the entire county taken at roughly 10 year intervals.) And this photoset contains the pages from the 1957 Polk City Directory for N. Greenwood Avenue, showing the businesses, churches, and residences in house number order. Specifically they are pages 357 through 360.
My photos of this afternoon's unearthing and tonight's unveiling are currently being uploaded to Flickr. You'll find them in the Tulsa's Buried Car photo set. Included are photos of the time capsule contents, which came out in pristine condition.
This web page has photos of the crypt with the amount of water that was found in it when it was first opened.
The official buriedcar.com website has a gallery of photos of the vault and the 1957 burial.
Somehow I was able to go through the arena floor to the north loading dock where workers were detaching the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere from its skids and other workers were using a circular saw and a hammer and chisel to open the time capsule.
When they hosed off the undercarriage, the water that dripped down to the ground was the color of Oklahoma City dirt.
Even if it is soggier than Ted Kennedy's car and as rusty as Davy Jones' locker, the Belvedere has served its purpose. It has been the focal point of Tulsa's statehood centennial celebration, and it has drawn press and visitors from all over the world.
Speaking of press from all over the world -- I've been surprised that the organizers didn't do a better job helping press find out where they were supposed to be. Last night at the credentialing welcome party at the Tulsa Press Club, there was no sign outside on Boston Avenue pointing visiting reporters there. (Doesn't help that Boston Ave. looks like a war zone.) There were no signs indicating press parking and entrances. The press packet listed the north YMCA lot as the press parking area, but there seemed to be no way to get to it from any direction. And there were no signs pointing to the press reception area in the basement of the convention center.
The MC at the noon excavation was
fired retired KRMG morning host John Erling, the favorite mouthpiece of the old Tulsa establishment. He got the nod to MC the arena groundbreaking and the inauguration of Kathy Taylor. Erling is a relative newcomer -- he arrived in Tulsa in 1976. Why not ask a Tulsa media personality who was around in 1957 -- someone like Lee Woodward (he moved here in 1957) or Clayton Vaughn or Don Woods or Dick Schmitz or Frank Morrow or any number of old-time Tulsa radio and TV types who frequent TulsaTVMemories.com?
"You know, there really ought to be a drain at the bottom of this thing, just in case any water gets in."
"Whaddya mean, in case any water gets in? It's a pool liner, it's designed to keep water on one side. And we're sealing it in an airtight plastic bag -- space age technology. Anyway, it's too late to change anything even if we wanted to."
"You're right. And it's not like we're going to be around in 50 years when they pull it out of the ground."
It isn't Tulsa, but it is 50 years ago:
On Monday morning May 13, 1957, I entered the Washington bureau of the Associated Press in the old Evening Star building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a 26-year-old reporter transferred from Indianapolis where I had reported on the Indiana legislature for the AP. I was immediately sent to Capitol Hill, and soon was helping cover the Kennedy brothers' investigation of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, defended by Edward Bennett Williams. What a start for 50 years in Washington that continue today.
My $125 weekly paycheck was hardly enough to get by, but drinks were cheap in the Members Bar of the National Press Club (restricted to males, as was the club itself), and the small steak there sold for $1.25. I resorted to group living, in a large Georgetown house owned by a Foreign Service officer who was in Costa Rica as ambassador. I paid $100 rent a month. My housemates included two United Press reporters and two CIA employees (one overt and one covert).
It is highly unlikely to find journalists and intelligence operatives cohabiting today, reflecting the kinder, gentler nation's capital a half century ago. Then, as now, a Congress controlled by Democrats with a one-vote margin in the Senate confronted a Republican president. But they opposed each other courteously in 1957. I had arrived in Washington in a pause preceding party polarization, the civil rights revolution, racial riots, student unrest, assassinations, two impeachment proceedings, Vietnam, Watergate and Iraq.
Washington then was still the town of Southern efficiency and Northern charm, shabby and not resembling today's sleek metropolis. The government was much smaller and far less intrusive. The $76.7 billion federal budget ($585 billion in current dollars) compares with the 2007 figures of $2.7 trillion. But even those relatively modest figures spawned an assault on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's budget by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson.
And if you arrived in Tulsa about the time that Mr. Novak arrived in Washington, I'd love to know what you remember about it. I'm still working on my story about Tulsa in 1957 -- it'll run after the unearthing of the Belvedere and will include coverage of that event -- so there's still time to send me your reminiscences.
As I mentioned in my initial Tulsa 1957 post, I wanted to be able to create maps showing where things were back then. I finally figured out a relatively easy way to do it, using Google Earth, and I found a number of online tools to minimize the amount of development work I would need to do.
My first exercise was to create a KML file showing all of the more than 400 restaurants listed in the classified section of the 1957 Polk Directory of Tulsa. The usual GIGO warning applies. If the Polk Directory was wrong, the file will be wrong.
I would like to add, but have not yet added, non-duplicate entries from the Southwestern Bell Yellow Pages. I'm limited there because a quarter of a page from the "Cafes" section of the 1957 phone book was torn out.
Google Earth makes it possible to include all sorts of information in a map -- with enough time and energy, you could include images of newspaper and phone book ads and building photos.
To build the file I used Excel to enter name and address, then used an online tool called BatchGeocode to convert each address to a latitude and longitude and to create a KML file, which Google Earth can read. I had to do a bit of tweaking to get the icons I wanted, and the Geocoder had trouble with some addresses that no longer exist (e.g., the 100 block of South Main, the 500 block of East Brady and East Cameron). (I pre-modified Sapulpa Rd and Sand Springs Rd addresses to the modern day names of Southwest Blvd and Charles Page Blvd.) For some reason, Pennington's Drive-In wound up in the south Atlantic Ocean, but I fixed it.
Google Maps can load and display small KML files, but not a KML file with 400 entries. So you'll need to have Google Earth installed on your PC to get the full effect. In Google Earth, you'll be able to hover over an icon to see the name, and click on it to see the address. Here again is the link to the KML file of Tulsa's restaurants in 1957 which you can download and use in Google Earth.
For those without, and until I can figure a dynamic way to display the map online, I've provided some screenshots from Google Earth below the fold. One is zoomed out to show the location of all restaurants in the city, the other is zoomed in to provide more detail between Pine and 36th, Union and Harvard.
A cool idea for future implementation: Google Earth is able to display a fourth-dimension -- time. If you could compile the restaurant listings for each year, you'd be able to move the time slider back and forth and watch as one restaurant replaces another, and as restaurants move out toward the suburbs. What an amazing way that would be to visualize the development and undevelopment of the city over time.
Speaking of undevelopment, notice some of the clusters of restaurants. There are eateries on nearly every block downtown, and there's a linear cluster extending north of the expressway -- that's Greenwood -- the Black Wall Street of America. There's a cluster along Quanah / Southwest Blvd in west Tulsa (another urban renewal removal). Sheridan Road was the key commercial link between the airport and the rest of the city.
I hope to post more KML files in the future, covering places like drug stores, groceries, churches, beer joints, bowling alleys, and movie theaters. It would speed up the process if some of my readers were willing to help transcribe phone book entries. I'm not quite set up to accept help, but in the not too distant future, I will be able to send you an image of a page from the Polk Directory and a template Excel spreadsheet for you to fill in. Let me know if you'd be willing to help in that way by e-mailing me at blog at batesline dot com.
And as always, if seeing the name of an obscure restaurant stirs some memories, drop me a line and tell me about it.
Pictures after the jump:
One of the unusual events of 1957 was the January 6th crash of an American Airlines Convair 240 en route from Joplin to Tulsa. The plane was west of Owasso on approach to Tulsa Municipal Airport. Three crew and seven passengers were aboard. One passenger was killed. The cause of the crash:
Struck trees, hit the ground, and slid 500 ft. after landing short of the runway in rapidly deteriorating condtions. The captain's lack of alertness in allowing the first officer to continue an instrument descent to an altitude too low to permit terrain clearance.
Here is a link to the coverage and photos of the crash from the January 10, 1957, edition of the Collinsville News.
This may help stir some memories of late '50s Tulsa. Reader John Brandon sent along a scan of a 1958 service station map of the City of Tulsa. He got it as an eleven-year-old, and he marked it up (in black crayon) to show changed city limits resulting from annexation and the recently proposed freeway network. Click this link to open or download the 4 MB PDF of the 1958 D-X map of Tulsa.
(It's nice to find a kindred spirit. I was (and am) fond of collecting and annotating maps, too.)
On the back of the map is a downtown grid, showing the location of important buildings, a map showing the route of the Tulsa Tour, and a county map, which shows the small cities and the locations of several rural schools, like East Central (then at Admiral and Garnett) and Rentie (81st and Harvard).
Here are some interesting things I noticed; please add your observations in the comments:
- On the county map, the N-S section line roads east of Memorial aren't named and go up in increments of 17, not 16 as they do today.
- I'm pretty sure that U.S. 169 came down Boston from 11th Street to connect to Boulder Park Rd and the 21st Street bridge. This map shows it coming down Baltimore Ave.
- On the county map, no Yale between 71st and 81st. No 61st between Sheridan and Memorial.
- The intersection of 31st and Yale, evidently designed to avoid two grade crossings of the M. K. & T. tracks.
- Alsuma (51st & Mingo) is still a separate town with its own street names.
- Other odd street names: Braniff Hills and Broadmoor Hills south of Southern Hills Country Club. Hidden Hill at... well, I'll let you find Hidden Hill.
- Where does downtown stop? It's a lot harder to tell without the Inner Dispersal Loop.
MORE MAPS: John Brandon was kind enough to scan some specific parts of the map:
I'm working on a story in connection with the upcoming unearthing of the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere time capsule, and I need your help. I want to convey to readers who weren't around then what Tulsa was like and how it was different 50 years ago.
If you lived or worked or visited Tulsa in 1957, whether you were a child, a teenager, or a grown-up, I want to hear your memories. You don't have to be able to remember anything earth-shattering. I'm looking for things like favorite places to eat out, your school, your neighborhood (particularly if you lived just north of downtown, in Greenwood, west of Denver downtown, or in the Locust Park area), teen hangouts, where you shopped for groceries, what you did for fun in the summer time. If you remember anything about the big events of that year -- such as the massive May flood, the car burial, the Tulsarama semi-centennial celebration -- I'd like to hear about that, too.
My deadline is the day after Memorial Day, so the sooner I hear from you, the better.
You can post your memories as a comment on this entry or e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com. If you'd rather talk to me than write to me, e-mail me your phone number, and I'll give you a call. Thanks very much.
This entry was inspired by a recent comment by the president of Langston University. I'll say no more now, as I will address the comment in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column, but here are some interesting facts I gleaned from analyzing the 1957 edition of Polk's City Directory.
For out of towners and newcomers to Tulsa: Greenwood Avenue was Main Street for Tulsa's African-American community prior to urban "renewal." A few commercial buildings remain at the corner of Greenwood and Archer, and a handful of churches still stand, but most everything else was demolished. The land at the southern end of Greenwood stood vacant for many years until it was designated for a state college campus, now the Tulsa campus of Oklahoma State University. The storefronts at the northern end were replaced with late '70s, early '80s suburban style homes.
It's hard to imagine what Greenwood was like just 50 years ago. This may give you some sense of the place.
In 1957 on Greenwood Ave. in Tulsa, there were nine grocery stores in the mile between Archer and Pine Streets, along with five drug stores, six variety/sundry/dry goods stores, a meat market, a confectionery, a bakery, a florist, a hardware store, a jeweler, a radio and TV store, two record stores, two appliance stores, two thrift shops, four gas stations, and a hardware store.
There were also 21 barber and/or beauty shops, four shoe repair shops, four shoe shine parlors, three tailors, a photographer, an upholstery shop, and eight dry cleaners.
Greenwood Ave. had five physicians, four dentists, a chiropractor, five law offices, two real estate offices, two insurance agencies,a newspaper (the Oklahoma Eagle), and seven churches.
There were two fraternal lodges, a dance hall (the Dreamland), a nightclub (the Flamingo), eight bars, a movie theater (the Rex), 19 restaurants (including three places with barbecue in the name and three chili parlors), and four pool halls.
There were eight hotels, 11 apartment buildings, 13 rooming houses.
That only counts businesses on Greenwood Ave. and doesn't include other streets and avenues in the district, which went as far west as Detroit and as far east as the Midland Valley and Santa Fe tracks.
If you want specifics about what businesses were where, you can see for yourself by looking at pp. 357-360 of Polk's 1957 directory of Tulsa.
Over on the TulsaNow forum, Steve, who has collected some very interesting material on the history of his current neighborhood, Lortondale, has written some of his memories of growing up in Tulsa in the '60s and '70s and is inviting others to do the same. He grew up in Moeller Heights and attended the very modern St. Pius X Catholic school and parish in that neighborhood. (The neighborhood appears to be named after the owner of the farm on which the neighborhood was built; the parish met in the barn before the building was completed.)
Also, there's a discussion about the origin of Tulsa's street and avenue names. If you're curious to know who named the streets and why the names were chosen, or if you have some knowledge to share on the topic, click on through.
Man-on-the-street interviews from the March 11, 1957, Tulsa Tribune on the subject of rock 'n' roll's staying power. I'm guessing these comments were gleaned somewhere in downtown Tulsa, from the presence of a Central High School student and the fact that Mrs. Dearston is adorned with a very lovely hat -- the sort one would wear to go shopping in the city. Note the scarves -- must have been a windy day.
Curbstone Opinion Rock 'N' Roll Losing Popularity?
Majority Quizzed Here Say Not
Young people are going to keep on "rocking and rolling," believe a majority of this week's Curbstoners. They see -- and hear -- no let up from the teen-age craze.
The question: Is rock 'n' roll on the way out? Experts say it is beginning to get ragged around the edges."
Miss Glynna Eastering of 1144 S. Troost Ave., a nurse: "No, I don't think it is. My friends and I still love to listen to it, and it seems to me it is just as popular as ever. I certiainly like it as much."
Mrs. Imogene Coats of Salina, Okla., a teacher: "I don't think rock 'n' roll is dying out; not from the reaction in our school. When we have assemblies, that's all the students want. Our school has a little combo, and the boys and girls will sit and listen to them play those songs for hours."
Dan Coco, of 215 W. Tecumseh St., a Central High School student: "Yes, I do think it's going out. It's not the fad now it was because it's all turning into the same thing. Every song sounds alike. Some of the students are still crazy about it, but most of the ordinary girls and boys are losing their enthusiasm for it."
Mrs. Howard Dearston of Bixby, housewife: "I hope so. It doesn't look as if it is, however. I think it is just a phase as the charleston was with us."
Mrs. George Graff Jr., of 4107 S. New Haven Pl., housewife and teacher: "I have a teenage daughter, and I don't really think it is ending. The young people just like it too well. After all, it's an outlet for their anxieties and emotions."
Charles Harris of 3919 W. 8th St., seaman stationed with the Coast Guard in Alaska: "Yes, I think rock 'n' roll is on the way out. The charleston always is making a comeback and fading out, ever since the '20s, and I think this music will do the same. The waltzes and rhythm tunes are coming in again now. Rock 'n' roll is really losing its popularity in Alaska."
From the March 11, 1957, Tulsa Tribune we learn which Lewis gave his name to Tulsa's Lewis Avenue:
Services for Mrs. Elizabeth Bell Lewis, widow of S. R. (Buck) Lewis, pioneer Tulsa attorney and real estate developer for whom Lewis Avenue was named, will be at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the Musgrove Funeral Home at Claremore.
Burial will be in Woodlawn Cemetery there.
Mrs. Lewis, 84, died in a Claremore convalescent home Saturday after an illness of six months. She lived in Tulsa for many years before returning to her native Claremore last fall.
Her husband died in February, 1950. He had lived in Tulsa since 1887 and was a Democratic Party leader for many years.
He organized the Cherokee Land Co., a real estate firm which developed the Cherokee Heights Addition north of Archer Street and west of Lewis Ave. He also helped write a three-volume "History of Tulsa" and wrote "History of the Cherokees."
Mrs. Lewis was a first cousin of the late Will Rogers, former state Sen. Clu Gulager of Muskogee and the late John Gulager, Muskogee County judge, and a second cousin of former state Sen. Dennis Bushyhead of Claremore.
She was a sister of Mrs. A. V. Robinson of Claremore.
Blogger Kirk Demarais of Secret Fun Spot has long been fascinated by Phantasmagoria, the dark ride at swiftly vanishing Bell's Amusement Park. He detailed his history with the ride, along with photos and sketches, in this entry from February 8.
As sometimes happens when you post something on a blog, he got a reply from someone else with an interest in the topic -- long-time Bell's electrician Buddy Stefanoff, who offered Kirk the chance to come look around inside the ride as it was being dismantled and packed to move. In the process, Kirk learned more of the history of Phantasmagoria and some of its intriguing secrets.
"Farewell" may not be the right word, actually. Toward the end of that second entry you'll find a sneak preview of a concept for a new dark ride at Bell's new location, wherever that may be.
On a related note, a couple of days ago my wife and six-year-old daughter were driving past Expo Square on 21st Street, and as they went past Zingo, my little girl -- and she's small for her age -- started talking excitedly about all the rides she could ride this year that she was too short for last season. That's when my wife had to break the news -- Bell's was going away. She sobbed the rest of the way home.
From my years of involvement with the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, I know how relieved the immediate neighbors are that Bell's is going away. Personally I never wanted to see it leave entirely; I liked one Sunrise Terrace homeowner's proposal to have Tulsa County accommodate Bell's expansion toward the interior of Expo Square, along the State Fair Midway and away from the neighborhoods. Neighboring homeowners very reasonably wanted to prevent any encroachment into the open space buffer along the west side of the Fairgrounds.
There was a long legal fight to revoke the county's permission for Bell's to construct a new coaster closer to the neighborhood, and it was finally resolved this last year with a compromise. With Bell's gone, the neighbors won't have to worry about Bell's expansion plans anymore.
They will have to worry about whatever County Commissioner Randi Miller plans to put in its place. Oh, she says they don't know what's going to be done with the land, but you don't throw away a revenue source without something in mind to replace it. My intuition is that Miller has known what will be going in there since long before she announced that Bell's was being evicted, but she isn't yet willing to take the political flak for the decision.
(The neighbors will have more say over what will replace Bell's if the City of Tulsa annexes the Fairgrounds. Without annexation, only the County Commissioners and officials directly appointed by them will have a role in choosing the new use. With annexation, any change in zoning, any special exception, or variance would have to come through the City of Tulsa's zoning process, and would be more likely to be compatible with the surrounding neighborhoods.)
Would it have killed Miller and the Fair Board to give us just one more summer to say goodbye to the park as it has been for decades?
MORE: Kirk has a new post up about the White Lightnin' log flume ride.
From the June 1957 edition of Reader's Digest, pp. 69-71:
Tulsa, Okla., is an outstanding example of the crusade for beautification
that is sweeping the country
Where Beauty Is Everybody's Business
Condensed from National Municipal Review
AMERICA is on a beautification crusade.
The unsightly scars and utilitarian bleakness which in the past have blighted U. S. towns and cities in the wake of industrial expansion and the automobile are no longer accepted as the inevitable result of progress. Indeed, all across the land millions of dollars are being spent annually to make this country truly "America the Beautiful," and foremost among the movement's supporters is modern industry.
Since 1950 the volume of nursery and landscaping businesses has doubled -- to 750 million dollars annually. The biggest increase has been in industrial landscaping, which tripled in four years. But homeowners, too, are planting more than ever before. The sale of flower seeds and plants has increased at least 50 percent since 1950, and the demand for lawn seed has doubled. Garden clubs are growing: the National Council of State Garden Clubs now lists 385,000 members in 45 states, up ten percent last year alone. Intensive beautification projects are under way in many U. S. cities.
One of the cities working hardest at its beauty program is Tulsa, Okla., (pop. 185,000) which, although it is a growing industrial community, has already started calling itself "America's Most Beautiful City."
Located on the Arkansas River at the foot of the Osage hills, Tulsa enjoys a beautiful natural setting. It is a young city (Oklahoma as a state will be just 50 years old in November), and so has few run-down sections. Its light industries are fueled by gas, hence there is no smoke to darken its clear blue skies or begrime its modern buildings and tree-lined streets. Not only are the streets washed down every night but gutters are regularly scrubbed by hand.
Entering Tulsa from its attractively landscaped airport (maintained by the city park department), one cannot but be impressed with its clean skyline cutting the horizon in the distance. Soon you are driving past a city firehouse decorated with flowers and shrubs, or you may pass the drive-in addition to the Fourth National Bank. Its plantings are a sight to behold at any season, but in the spring especially, when thousands come to view the bank's tulips. In the residential section you drive past well kept lawns and gardens and catch a glimpse of the Municipal Rose Garden, which rosarians say is one of the best in the United States.
Tulsa is an acknowledged leader in industrial landscaping. A special Chamber of Commerce committee not only gives awards for industrial planting but seeks out incoming businesses and urges landscaping and beautification. The local Public Service company has screened its 17 transformer stations with evergreens. One service station has hundreds of Floribunda rosebushes (each customer receives a bloom), and a restaurant spent $15,000 last year on decorative plantings. Utica Square, a landscaped shopping center, won the first national award ever given by the American Association of Nurserymen* to a U. S. shopping center.
[* This Association gave The Reader's Digest a national award in 1955 for the landscaping of its main offices.]
Most of all, Tulsa is a city of gardeners who are determined to make not only their own streets and homes beautiful but every facet of their city as well. Almost every garden club has a city-beautification project -- the maintenance of a roadside park, for example, or the planting of a local schoolyard. The Garden Center, focus of all garden activity, was behind the drive that last year got 10,000 dogwood trees planted throughout the city.
Tulsa is proud of its handsome Garden Center, the only one in the United States financed by a municipal bond issue. Purchased only two years ago, the Center has 3000 members and serves as the meeting place for the varied activities of some 140 garden clubs. And it isn't big enough -- an $85,000 addition is now being built by the city park board.
The Center's spacious rooms are busy all day and many evenings with special lectures and exhibits, with meetings of men's and women's garden clubs and their flower shows. In one month last year 4000 people attended 12 meetings and 19 flower shows at the center.
Most Tulsans take care of their own yards and flowers. One outstanding garden is that of George Cunningham, general attorney for Shell Oil. "Eleven years ago," his wife says, "George didn't know a dandelion from a spirea, and now look..."
Sice he is raising day lilies for the national Hemerocallis show (to be held in June), Cunningham has a few hundred on his half-acre lot, including some "guest plants" that growers sent him last year to mature for this year's exhibit. He also has over 200 azaleas in his yard, including 13 varieties. There are Camellia japonica, Chinese dogwood, mountain laurel and holly. All plants are neatly labeled, a custom many Tulsa gardeners follow in their zeal for horticultural education.
The Show -- the flower show, that is -- has become the big thing in Tulsa. The Men's Rose Club show and the gladiolus and dahlia shows always attract city-wide attention. The local papers, radio and TV give such shows as much attention as they do baseball.
Why is Tulsa so garden conscious? The most logical explanation, perhaps, is that youthful industries have been drawn to the city -- aviation and skills allied to oil. The young scientists and technicians who move their can usually afford a little more land than they had before, a little better house, a hobby.
A young wife explains how a garden club grows: "We have these big back yards and no fences. We are all planting, and some of us get to talking about our garden problems over coffee in the patio. Someone suggests we start a garden club, so we do. We meet monthly at one another's homes -- and finally we get so many members we can't all get in one house. So we help some of the newcomers form another club."
These clubs -- often with gay names like Hoe 'n' Hope, Plan 'n' Ponder, and Yard Birds -- tend to become the nucleus of all civic drives in Tulsa, and to assume neighborly duties far beyond gardening interests. Tulsa, as a result, is one of the more neighborly towns in the country. And that, in turn, is the source of the spirit of a city which proudly claims the title of "America's Most Beautiful." It is a spirit, certainly, which any town or city not already on the beautification bandwagon might well emulate.
National Municipal Review (May, '57), © 1957 by National Municipal League, Carl H. Pforzheimer Bldg., 47 E. 68 St., New York 21, N. Y.
There's an interesting thread over at the TulsaNow Forum about the history Lortondale neighborhood, on the east side of Yale Avenue at 26th Street. The subdivision of homes with low pitched roofs and glass walls was built in 1954 on what had been a farm belonging to the publisher of the Tulsa Whirled (thus the name) and later the original site of Meadowbrook Country Club (now on 81st Street between Memorial and Mingo).
One of the fascinating facts supplied by Steve, a 20-year resident of the subdivision:
Lortondale was the very first merchant builder (speculative) housing development in the United States where all homes were built with central air conditioning as a standard feature, built on slab foundations with in-slab forced air HVAC ducts. Builder Howard Grubb and the Chrysler Air-Temp Corporation featured Lortondale homes in their national magazine ads at the time, and Lortondale made national homebuilding news for this "luxury" feature. An historic homebuilding fact, right here in Tulsa.
He also mentions that Grubb built two model homes in Mayo Meadow neighborhood, just east of Pittsburg on 21st Place.
Lortondale's MySpace page has a scan of the original owner's manual for the homes, plus many contemporary photos and magazine articles about the development's modern features. The neighborhood also has a very well-designed website (although it doesn't seem to be working at the moment).
I'm pretty sure The Incredibles live in Lortondale, or someplace very much like it. Here's a 1956 view of a Lortondale home. (Flickr photo uploaded by Hoodlam.)
And here's a still from The Incredibles (image found here):
I found a very heartwarming thread over on TulsaNow's public forum. Someone calling himself "Hometown" has posted memories and photos from the neighborhood southeast of downtown which was displaced by the construction of the southeastern interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. The neighborhood linked together the south edge of downtown -- home to car dealerships and churches -- with the 15th Street (Cherry Street) commercial district, the Tracy Park, Gunboat Park, Maple Ridge North, and South Boston neighborhoods. And the heart of the neighborhood was a grove of locust trees that became a city park, Locust Grove Park.
Hometown's description includes details of the park that he gathered from old maps and newspaper stories and his own memories of living nearby.
Some of my very first memories are of Locust Grove Park. In 1959 we lived on 14th between Cincinnati and Detroit. I was six years old. I can remember sitting in our small front yard at dusk and watching a group of square dancers under the lights of the basketball court. The women wore layers of petticoats causing their colorful skirts to puff out and swirl around. A man with a fiddle called out the dance moves.
It’s hard now to imagine that children played in the park and around the neighborhood with little or no supervision. We would take off and walk blocks into downtown or over to the Gunboat neighborhood or further to Tracy Park. But we spent most of our time in Locust Grove Park.
He has a picture of himself in front of the park's recreation center in 1959, in front of his house on 14th Street between Cincinnati and Detroit in 1960, and the next house he lived in, on Norfolk Ave. in Tracy Park, in 1960 -- the houses in the background of the photo were demolished for the construction of the east leg of the IDL (I-444 / US 75).
Other people who remember that place and time are chiming in with memories of their own. Hometown promises more photos and more memories in the future.
This is exactly the sort of recording and sharing of memories that I had hoped would emerge in this centennial year. (It was the topic of my column in this week's UTW.)
Hometown's tagline on the TulsaNow forum is "Tulsa's best days are ahead of us." If that's to be true, we need to remember the good days that once were. We need to remember what Tulsa was like before our leaders began to shred it to pieces, so that we can, to whatever extent possible, repair the damage that was done.
The big story I've been working on is finally in print. This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly cover story is the epic tale of a century -- yes, a century -- of Tulsa's plans to do something interesting with the Arkansas River.
This story was a blast to research. UTW's Holly Wall and Siara Jacobs rounded up copies of articles and documents from the 1968 and 1976 plans from the very helpful folks at the River Parks Authority. I spent hours paging through Central Library's "vertical files" and repository of old planning documents. I had far more material than I could use. I was helped immensely by a conversation with architect Rex Ball, whose firm developed the 1968 River Lakes Park plan, and by my long acquaintance with Jim Hewgley III, who was Streets Commissioner when the Zink Lake low-water dam was built by Mayor Jim Inhofe.
It's my intention to scan and upload much of the research material and to provide some sort of bibliography to help anyone else who might want to do further research.
In the story I mention a river concept presented very briefly in a 1959 document called A Plan for Central Tulsa:
A page of that study was devoted to "The Marina," a concept for the river between 11th and 21st Streets. The accompanying illustration showed an artificial lagoon for boats near 15th and Riverside, a floating restaurant and boat club just to the south, a "picnic island" accessible by pedestrian bridge just to the north, and a larger island, accessible only by boat, where the west bank used to be.
Yes, used to be. The drawing showed the river almost twice as wide as its existing width at the 21st Street bridge, backed up by a dam at some unspecified location downstream, with the new shoreline just below the west bank levee. The resemblance to last year's "The Channels" plan is uncanny.
I took a photograph of the illustration so you can see for yourself. It's not as sharp as I'd like, but I think you can make it out. Click on the image to see it in its original size.
(Notice that in 1959, the location of the Inner Dispersal Loop, seen along the top of the diagram, has already been determined, although it wouldn't be completed until nearly 25 years later.)
My column this week is also about Tulsa history:
Oklahoma's centennial year ought to be a year when all Oklahomans -- natives and newcomers alike -- encounter our state's history in a way that engages our imaginations. While every year is a good year to study Oklahoma history, this is a year that ought to be hallowed to that purpose, a year for remembering where we came from and how we got to where we are today.
The June unearthing of the buried Belvedere fulfills that purpose quite well. I propose extending that glimpse back 50 years with the Tulsa 1957 project, which I launched here a while back and explain in detail in the column. I also mention a couple of websites which are helping to capture everyday life in Tulsa as it was. (But I neglected to mention Jack Frank's wonderful Tulsa Films series, which uses TV footage and home movies to bring decades past back to life.)
Also this week UTW gives a rave review to the source of the coffee and quesadillas that helped fuel my 6,000-word feature story. Katharine Kelly gives the Coffee House on Cherry Street five stars each for food, atmosphere, and service.
This is not quite 1957, but it is certainly from the same era, and it will give you a sense of the kind of entertainment that was available in downtown Tulsa back in the day.
In June 1961, Patsy Cline was a passenger in a head-on collision and was thrown through the windshield. Just six weeks later, on July 29, still scarred and hobbled by her injuries, she performed her first concert since the wreck.
The venue was the Cimarron Ballroom at 4th and Denver in downtown Tulsa, in what was once the Akdar Shrine Mosque. (It was demolished in the '70s for parking, and the site is now home to the Tulsa Transit station.) This was the home of Leon McAuliffe and his western swing band, the Cimarron Boys. McAuliffe was steel guitar player for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys during their formative years in Tulsa, but he started his own band in Tulsa after serving in World War II. McAuliffe and his band served as Patsy's band that night.
And that night in July 1961, the sound man decided to roll tape. Thirty-some years later, the reel-to-reel tape resurfaced, and in 1997 it was issued on CD: Patsy Cline: Live at the Cimarron Ballroom.
The Tulsa City-County Library has several copies of the CD circulating. I just checked it out today and listened to it for the first time.
The recording is not an audiophile's dream -- there are a few dropouts, there was feedback on a couple of songs -- but it's still a live performance by one of the most amazing vocalists of the 20th century, backed by a great western swing band. The CD includes the between-songs banter between Patsy and the band and the audience. And we get to hear Patsy Cline without the heavy production of her Nashville sessions. The liner notes include photos of Patsy at the Cimarron, a transcript of the spoken parts of the recording, and, on the back, a facsimile of a poster advertising the event.
For those used to strict segregation between musical genres, the set list will be a surprise. It includes some of her hits ("I Fall to Pieces," "Walking after Midnight," "Poor Man's Roses"), and covers of classic Dixieland ("Bill Bailey"), western swing ("San Antonio Rose"), and Hank Williams ("Lovesick Blues") songs, plus two rock-n-roll tunes: "Stupid Cupid" and "Shake, Rattle, and Roll."
Here are several articles that tell the story of this performance and how it came to be issued on CD, plus a couple of reviews of the CD.
This entry isn't specifically about Tulsa in 1957, but this is what many Tulsans would have been watching on KOTV channel 6 on December 31, 1956. It's The Jack Benny Show, a weekly half-hour variety show, sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes.
The show features a cameo from strangely cantilevered Jayne Mansfield (sans lobsters), a song and dance number with The Sportsmen and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, and a talent show segment featuring Mel Blanc as Stanley Gropff, animal impressionist. You'll see commercials for Lucky Strike ("It's TOASTED to Taste Better!") and Tareyton cigarettes, and in case you ignored the commercials, they even worked a pitch for Luckies into the song and dance number.
It's in three segments on the Daily Motion video site:
The second part, with Mel Blanc, is the funniest of the three.
Via Mark Evanier, whose fascinating blog "news from me" is chock full o' vintage TV videos and anecdotes. You'll want to read his entry to learn something interesting about one of the actresses in the Landrews Sisters bit.
Oh, all right, here's another one, from 1960, set at a department store with Jack as the Christmas shopper from Hell, featuring Mel Blanc (as a long-suffering clerk), Frank Nelson (as a supercilious floor walker working his way down the ladder of success), Eddie Anderson, Dennis Day, Richard Deacon, and Don Wilson. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
One of the most interesting artifacts I've found from 1957 thus far is a glossy, color, 44-page tourism magazine called Tulsa, I.T. (There's a copy of it in the buried Belvedere.)
I have photocopied all the pages and plan to scan and post a complete black-and-white version sometime soon. While it isn't directly representative of everyday life for Tulsans in 1957 -- which is what I'm aiming for with this "Tulsa 1957" effort -- it does tell you what the folks at the Chamber of Commerce thought was most important for outsiders to know about our fair city.
And these two pages, in particular, tell us what the tourism people at the Chamber thought visitors to Tulsa ought to see, even if they only had a few hours to tour the city. This is the Tulsa Tour.
If you'll click on those thumbnails, they'll lead you to Flickr, where you can download the humongoid 4 MB original images or smaller images if you prefer. I photographed those pages with a cheap Kodak digital camera on "best" setting. I did not attempt to press the book flat, out of respect for its fragility, so the images are not like you'd get from a flatbed scanner, but the text is still legible and the detail isn't bad.
Here is the text:
America's Most Beautiful City
By J. P. Arwood
You will enjoy a "Tour of Tulsa" . . . a city with wide, clean streets . . . towering buildings that gleam in the clear, fresh air of a smokeless industrial center . . . mile upon mile of residential areas as beautiful as a quarter million prideful residents can make them . . . one of the nation's finest vacationlands right next door . . . and general living conditions that are unexcelled in the United States.
This is Tulsa . . . the kind of city you'd plan if you could build your own.
The Tulsa Tour originated in the late '30s when the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce decided to show off this sparkling new city that had merged from obscurity to become a metropolis of international importance in just three decades.
The durable reflective signs that blaze a clear trail through the Tulsa of today were provided by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce. These attractive markers were erected by the City of Tulsa and are currently maintained by them.
The tour, as now outlined, covers the downtown area with its clean, metropolitan canyons and "diamond sidewalks," the smart new residential areas such as Ranch Acres and the older palatial homes sitting far back from the streets on tree-covered estates.
Along the way, it takes the visitor to such places and points of interest as the ultra-modern national headquarters of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce; Oklahoma's most photographed church, the Boston Avenue Methodist; the nationally famous Municipal Rose Garden with more than 12,000 plants covering symmetrically designed grounds; Utica Square with its acres of modern suburban shops; Philbrook Art Center where a treasure of paintings and sculpture is displayed in a setting of Italian Renaissance splendor; the International Petroleum Exposition grounds where the world's oilmen gather by the thousands every four years to buy, sell and see the newest tools of their fascinating trade; the Tulsa State Fairgrounds where the nation's largest exhibit barn is to be found; and the University of Tulsa, famous in the sports world for its might in the football bowl games of the '40s, but more famous scholastically for its outstanding curriculum, especially in the field of petroleum engineering.
In addition to the scenic and residential points of interest there is an alternate tour which leads across the 21st street bridge to Quanah Avenue in West Tulsa. To the left will be seen The Texas Company's refinery and tankfarm. To the left as you approach the 11th street bridge is the D-X Sunray refinery where a conducted tour may be made. As you proceed across the 11th street bridge, the first street to your right is Riverside Drive which will lead you to the point where you left the residential tour.
Tulsa county's new $4 million courthouse, the new inspiring YMCA, the fabulous Gilcrease Institute, Mohawk park and zoo, and the American Airlines Overhaul and Supply Depot are places and points of interest well worth seeing, even though they are off the beaten path of the Tulsa Tour.
Depending upon the amount of time spent at various stops along the way, the tour can take an hour or an afternoon or a whole day. But regardless of the time allotted for sightseeing, the best way to view the Oil Capital is to follow the red arrows on the Tulsa Tour markers.
The downtown skyline shot is looking north along Boston with 8th & Boston in the foreground. The tallest buildings in the background are the NBT Building on the left and the Philtower on the right.
Note the city boundaries. Everything fits within a 10 mile by 7 mile box, and most of the space in that box is empty. It's apparent why Utica Square would be considered "suburban" at the time. Note that New Haven Avenue, connecting dots 9 and 10, is within the city limits, even though it's on the fairgrounds (just west of Bell's, the Pavilion, and the Armory).
Note the highway locations in the map. The 51st Street bridge is open, but there's no Skelly Bypass yet. The Skelly Bypass really would bypass everything. US 75 and US 169 are swapped from the present day configuration in how they approach from the north.
Questions for discussion:
- Anyone else remember those signs? They were still in existence in the '70s, but I think they were blue by then. I am almost certain there was one near Holland Hall's old campus at 26th Place and Birmingham.
- What, if anything, strikes you as odd, amusing, or puzzling about this list?
- What were they overly proud of?
- What did they overlook that should have been a point of pride?
- How many art deco buildings do you see in this list?
- How many buildings or places do you see that we would now consider historic or worthy of preservation?
- Anyone want to create a turn-by-turn description of the route shown on the map? Is it still driveable today?
- If you were to create a modern day Tulsa Tour, what landmarks would be on it?
Briefly noting stuff that's interesting, but not needed, for an article I'm writing:
Irvin J. McCrary Collection -- city planning documents accumulated by a Denver city planner, includes "Oklahoma City - A report of its Plan for an Outer Parkway and a plan for an Interior System of Parks and Boulevards, 1910," and "A Five-Year Park and Boulevard Program for Tulsa, Oklahoma, 1927."
Tulsa World - April 27, 1924 "TAA and Tulsa World announce Flag Design contest. This idea, conceived by TAA, was to offer a $50 prize to the best design for a flag that was 'symbolic of Tulsa and its various activities'. This competition was judged by the TAA, the Tulsa World in collaboration with Mayor Herman F. Newblock and Chamber President J. Burr."
A brief history of Tulsa's planning efforts by Robert Lawton Jones.
Contents of the KVOO Voice Library in the University of Tulsa library's special collections.
Issues and Discussion Points Regarding the Comprehensive Plan Update -- that's the plan update which will get underway in the near future.
From Harm's Way: Flood Hazard Mitigation in Tulsa, Oklahoma: includes history of some of our worst floods and the development of the stormwater management plan.
Crossposted from Tulsa TV Memories, with some further elaboration:
I was listening to some old Johnnie Lee Wills transcriptions from 1950, and I heard the announcer (Frank Sims) say to Johnnie Lee, "Our first tune was written by a good friend of mine and a good friend of yours. What do you say we get under way with the Coyote Blues, written by Lewis Meyer."
I knew bespectacled Brookside bookseller and biographer was a multitalented man, but I never suspected he was a western swing songwriter.
Here's a link with the lyrics of "Coyote Blues", which contains these immortal words:
I can't sit down, I'm black and blue
My gal kicked me on the kickaroo
I got the old coyote blues
She took me when I was helpless
She tried to build me up
But when she got me housebroke
She got another pup
TTM webmaster Mike Ransom notes that the song is on the Johnnie Lee Wills CD Band's A-Rockin'.
According to the Flags of the World website, this was the City of Tulsa's flag from 1923-1941. (Can you guess why it might have changed in 1941?)
While there's a dated quality to the flag, the same can be said for our current seal and flag, which are very, very '70s. I rather like the boosterism and optimism in this one. It has the added advantage of being contemporaneous with our city's best architecture, while the current flag is closest in time to our ungracefully aging City Hall.
Perhaps we could revise this flag with a new slogan. Here's one idea: replace "Unlimited Opportunity" with "Straight Ahead" in honor of the song written by Jimmy Hall, fiddler and vocalist with Leon McAuliffe's band. ("Take Me Back to Tulsa" is a great song, but I think this is a better candidate for official city song.)
Here's a puzzler for long-time Tulsans. I'll give you the answer in a day or so.
The floors of Tulsa's Central Library, starting at ground level, are numbered from 1 to 4 nowadays. (There are two basement levels below ground.) But when the building opened, and for many years thereafter, the elevator buttons had initials for each of those four levels, corresponding to the non-numeric name given to each. Can you name each level?
UPDATE: Answer after the jump....
I've had this idea of trying to capture life in Tulsa as it was in a particular year, before freeways, urban renewal, and the flight to the suburbs began to change it. It's hard to believe today, but Tulsa was once one of the twenty most densely populated large cities in the nation. It might help us reimagine what a revived, dense urban core for Tulsa would look like if we could get a vivid picture of what Tulsa's urban core looked like when it was dense and full of life. It seems a fitting project for our state's centennial year.
For this thought experiment, I picked 1957 as the target year. That was the year of the state's semi-centennial. The new County Courthouse had opened and the first massive redevelopment project -- the Civic Center, originally just four blocks between Denver and Frisco, 4th & 6th -- was just beginning to take shape. Early suburban neighborhoods and shopping centers, like my own Mayo Meadow, had been opened. The city's first freeway plan was drawn up -- it still isn't finished, and part of it never will be. A master parks plan called for a massive park along 71st Street from the river stretching through the hills to the east. In June 1957, a Reader's Digest article about Tulsa mentions that Tulsa had taken to calling itself "America's Most Beautiful City." 1957 is recent enough to be in living memory -- childhood for the early Baby Boomers, high school and young adulthood for my parents' generation -- but distant enough to be a very different world.
While I wanted to fix on a particular year for the sake of creating a snapshot in time, reminiscences from earlier and later years, like the memories of the early '60s at Riverview School, will help to make the picture vivid.
I'd like to flesh out this idea with maps -- big maps showing where the city limits were, little maps showing the stores, schools, and churches in a neighborhood -- photographs, news stories, and lots of personal reminiscences. The Sanborn Fire Maps, the city directory, the phone book, and newspaper ads can be used to help refresh and correct those reminiscences.
(It would be a big help if someone had software that could be used to create a base street map of Tulsa and environs in 1957.)
I'm not only interested in the memories of Tulsans, but also those of people who lived in surrounding towns, rural Tulsa County communities (like Alsuma, Lynn Lane, Union, Rentie Grove), and outlying Oklahoma towns like Nowata and Tahlequah who remember trips to the big city as a big deal.
This idea is inspired in part by a cartoon map that appeared in the very first issue of Urban Tulsa. The map showed the adventures of a group of boys, maybe 10-12 years old, who took the bus into downtown Tulsa on a Saturday morning in the early '60s -- they saw a movie, explored the seedier parts of downtown, had a Coke at a soda fountain, browsed through comic books. The map promised "To be continued" but it never was. Those are the sort of memories I'm hoping to capture.
I wasn't around in 1957, and I can't devote a lot of time to this, so I'm looking for help. Anyone interested?
The stuff of everyday life is usually overlooked in history textbooks, which rightly focus on the big picture -- names, dates, places. What you had for breakfast, where you shopped, what you did with your free time -- you take it all for granted while it's happening. But, happily, some folks write down those kinds of reminiscences and share them with the rest of us.
Roland Austin, an early-'60s alumnus of Riverview Elementary School, which stood on the south side of 12th St. between Frisco and Guthrie Aves., has set up a website to collect his reminiscences and to catch the attention of old classmates who might be websurfing by. (Note the trolley tracks and overhead power line in the photo at that link -- there was once a streetcar line on Frisco Ave.)
Riverview neighborhood is a thriving area with a rich history, although it was damaged by blanket upzoning (reversed in recent years) and the construction of the south leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop, which cut it off from downtown.
Fifty years or so ago, downtown west of Denver Ave. was a mixture of residential and other uses toward the north, becoming more exclusively residential going south toward the river. It was one big neighborhood, with Riverview School in the heart of it. Over time, the Civic Center, the State Office Building, the county jail, and finally the BOk center displaced the neighborhood north of 7th Street. Between 7th and the IDL, urban renewal replaced a low-rise neighborhood with the high rise Central Plaza towers (now known as Central Park Condominiums), the Doubletree, and the Renaissance Uptown apartments. A few remnants of the north part of the old neighborhood remain -- the Blair Apartments, and the other buildings on that same block.
The memory book page on the Riverview School site recalls the places where the neighborhood kids played and where their families shopped. Judy Roberts tells this sweet story about riding bikes on the grounds of the McBirney Mansion:
Some of us kids used to take our bikes down to the big old house that ran along Houston on one side and Riverside Drive on the other. That place took up a whole city block. We had no concept of private property, and we used to go down to the bottom of the hill where there was an old concrete pool that was empty. We'd ride our bikes around and around faster and faster until we were way up the sides, turned almost sideways. It was so exciting! One day the old lady who lived there came out as we came back up the hill to leave, and boy did she look mean. In a very stern voice, she informed us that we were on her private property and did we have any idea how serious trespassing was? Then she told us to come in the house. Let me tell you, we were shaking in our boots. But once we got inside, she had tea waiting...old fashioned high tea in a silver pot on a tray with china cups, sugar cubes, little finger sandwiches, cookies and the works. We had tea (although I'm sure we were very rude about it!) while she brightened up and told us she didn't mind us playing in her yard as long as we didn't destroy anything and came to visit her once in a while. Then she wanted to know how fast we thought we were going down there and was it scary? She actually turned out to be very nice, but lonely maybe, and I think she wished she could join us! Gosh, that brings back memories.
I want to know more about what Ronnie Mead's childhood was like:
I lived at 3rd and Boulder, in the Mead Hotel. My bedroom was right above the Rialto Theater sign.
Webmaster Roland Austin confesses a childhood crush and the lengths to which he went for the queen of his heart (the aforementioned Judy Roberts):
Anyway, I thought I had won your heart, as one day after school you came home with me and we played in my room and yard, then I walked you to your home on Galveston.... I gave up my cinnamon rolls for two whole weeks to save $1.00 for your birthday present. I was at a loss for what to get you. Since I was into playing board games (and I had just learned to play chess), I went downtown to Kress' and bought you a chess set, then walked to your house to give it to you. I remember when I gave it to you, you looked at it, then you gave it to your big sister. I felt so stupid. What in the world was I thinking???!!!
I do, I do, I do remember you! I knew your face looked familiar, and I remember going to your house. I had a really good time, and I did like you. And...now don't have a heart attack...I remember all the way home thinking maybe you'd hold my hand, but I couldn't make the first move...I was the girl! I am SO sorry about the chess set, and especially about you giving up your cinnamon rolls just for me! Wow, now that's true love! (giggling) I don't know why we didn't spend more time together, maybe you just weren't as pushy as the other boys, LOL. I always did pick the wrong ones, and believe me have I paid for it. I really am sorry for hurting your feelings, it seems I did a lot of stupid things like that growing up. Forgive me?
Click here to read more about favorite teachers, Christmas pageants (yes, at a public school), burger joints, and the ice cream man.
Tomorrow night is Giles' last weathercast after a quarter-century at 3rd & Frankfort.
On tonight's 6 p.m. show, Giles recalled covering the 1991 Oologah tornado, the first time they used the computer that converted Giles' info on location, speed, and direction of a tornado and turned it into a timetable, showing arrival times at towns in the twister's path.
I found this item on the Fort Worth Architecture forum, on a topic about the Trinity River Vision, a project that involves Bing Thom of The Channels fame. This item has nothing to do with the project specifically, but it says so many things so well that I'm going to quote it in full. It's by Kip Wright, and it's in response to someone who wants Fort Worth to be a city of towers, just like Dallas. If this applies to Fort Worth, it applies even more so to Tulsa. (I've added emphasis in a few places.)
O.K., Jonny, at the risk of sounding anti-progress or, at worst, a sentimental old geezer, I'm gonna tell you a story about a little boy. (This is also for some others of you out there who yearn for the tall, glass towers of Dallas.)
This little boy grew up in Atlanta, Ga., and he was VERY proud of his town: The Big Peach, Capital of the Empire State of the South, Hotlanta, site of one of the most decisive battles of the War Between the States, home to "Gone with the Wind." And home to the 2nd Six Flags! The sports teams sucked, but he is, to this day a big Falcon-Braves fan. He loved Atlanta for what it was, but he wanted MORE!
When National Geographic did a cover story about his town, ca. 1976, he was very excited. He dreamed of his city getting REALLY BIG with tall glass towers -- a mecca to which many would come, from far and near.
In 1978 he watched the historic old Henry Grady Hotel on Peachtree Street emploded. Not only was it cool to watch, it was to replaced by the 79-story Westin Peachtree Center Hotel! WOW! But his grandmother had quite another take. As her eyes filled up with tears, she said "I can't believe they've demolished the Henry Grady!" (And there was nothing wrong with it either!) It had been the site of many important Atlanta events, not to mention the site of proms, when Atlanta had only three or four high schools. She had been upset, too, when, a few years earlier, Atlanta's landmark Terminal Station (with Morrocan influence) had been demolished for a pitifully unremarkable 30-story federal building.
Shortly thereafter, the Loew's Grand, site of the world premiere of "Gone with the Wind" was slightly damaged by arson. It was soon "decided" that it was not salvagable and would have to be replaced by the 53-story world headquarters for Georgia Pacific. Then, like a falling domino, came the demand by Georgia Pacific that the landmark Coca-Cola sign, gigantic and resplendent with red and white neon lights that swirled at varying speeds, would have to go, too. They could not have this "eyesore" across the street from THEIR building! An icon of over 50 years was removed.
The little boy went away to college in the 1980s. It seemed like every time he went home, another old landmark had been eradicated for "progress." The 1890s dairy farm with dwellings and outbuildings, at the intersection of Briarcliff and LaVista, was removed, with over 100 gigantic oaks, for a strip shopping center, as Atlanta sprawled, far and wide. A ca. 1920 brick gas station, with porte cochere, was removed for a parking deck next to Emory University. The list went on and on . . .
In the early 1990s, just before his grandmother passed away, the little boy took his grandmother downtown to see the changes. She mostly just said, "Ooooooh, would you look at that." Her city was almost unrecognizable. And saddest of all, to them, was the replacement of the old S&W Cafeteria and the old Woolworth's (site of many of their lunchtimes) by (guess what?) a 60-story office tower.
The little boy moved away from his beloved home town because he got his wish. Atlanta is now a super big city with lots of gleaming glass towers, 16-lane interstate highways, and umpteen gazillion corporate headquarters. Everyone is now going to Atlanta -- but him. The city is TOO BIG, there are TOO MANY glass towered office complexes, there are TOO MANY Damn Yankees who have moved to that mecca. Development, cars, and pollution now dominate his town.
Now, I suppose I'd live there again . . . if a really good reason to do so appeared. I still have a lot of friends there. I love the big trees and green everywhere.
But there is a disconnect -- many, many of the landmarks that made Atlanta what it was to me are there no longer. It is now something else to me, in many ways. (Not to mention all the Damn Yankees who live there!) It's not Atlanta to me any more.
Old buildings create a continuity between generations, they give a city an identity and a soul.
Atlanta had a hell of a time during the Olympics in deciding on an identity. Its mascot was the blue thing, "Whatizit." How can one have an identity when one scorns the past and tradition? Everything about Atlanta was "looking to the future." But everything we are today is a result of what's happened in the past. This is what makes different parts of America unique, even as we speed on towards a goal of homogeneity.
It is a given that cities are going to change, but how will they do it? Growing with a seriously-planned eye to the past, improving upon what exists? Or wipe-the-slate-clean with cost-effectiveness, highest-and-best-use, biggest-bidder-take-all, and the-bottom-line? Flirt like a whore for the developer's dollar? Sit-up and roll-over like a dog, begging for a bone?
Some of you will smirk at me as a sentimental fool, but it is you whom I pity. With your eyes only on the bank ledger you will miss texture, lines, the patina of age, the walls that can't talk, the structures that connect us with our past.
As I live here in Fort Worth, I connect to it through people and places. People die, but it gives me hope that some of the buildings will live. I hope Fort Worth wakes up before it does more to destroy its legacy. Very few landmarks have even nominal protection in this town.
So, my good Jonny, you want your city to be like Dallas? This little boy says don't wish that on Cowtown (Dallas only WISHES it were "Cowtown," so its football team mascot would make sense!) I think "Cowtown" is good like it is. Sure, progress is good, but at what cost? If you want Dallas or Atlanta, then go there -- I think you'll eventually come home.
"The concept is known as bounded rationality. It applies to situations in which all actors have access to the same amount of incomplete information, and it applies to the more general case in which some have more than others." (Emphasis supplied).
In and of itself, the term is not that exciting. But the next page reveals more:
"Much economic theory, however, has barely begun to grapple with the even more interesting and widespread situation in which agents not only lack access to complete information but also lack the cognitive ability to arrive at the "best" decision. In most real-world situations, it is simply not possible to "maximize," to find the optimal choice. Reality is far too complicated."...
This is my blog: Generally, to simplify the world around me based on the limited information I have, and spew it out here, in some sort of "bounded rationality."
I'll do the best I can.
Jeff is off to a great start so far. This post, For New Urbanism, is especially good, a reminiscence about the benefits of growing up in the Crutchfield neighborhood (northeast of downtown, sandwiched between I-244, the Frisco tracks, US 75 and Utica), one of the few walkable mixed-use neighborhoods in Tulsa, in the late '60s and early '70s. He draws this lesson:
We had the things we needed in our neighborhood. There were no parking lots at these stores or schools or other places. After all, these things existed for the neighborhood, not the entire city. You might be thought of as a little "eccentric" if you actually drove to one these places.
What I described above is New Urbanism. It's really not "new", but I really don't care what you call it. It works. In this microcosm of Tulsa, we had pretty much everything we needed within walking distance. We knew the shop owners, and they knew us. When we got into mischief, we were never far from home. Our neighborhood was convenient, and it was also "home" to our home. It was comfortable and accessible.
Come to think of it, I wonder how we ever thought we could improve on this model.
For what it's worth, the City's Urban Development Department worked with homeowners and business owners in Crutchfield to develop a neighborhood plan a few years ago. The plan treats the mixed-use nature of the area as an asset. It's a good plan, but -- like so many other plans -- it needs people willing to invest in the area to make it happen.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Jeff!
One more Route 66 related entry. Someone called alanoftulsa posted this postcard with the following info on the TulsaNow forum. The doings at cousin Norman's place almost sound tame compared to the real-life Bates Tourist Hotel.
Because of the conditions of family life, my parents ended up bankrupted. The Sheriff's department came out one evening to repo the furniture. While they were there, my dad and a Deputy got into a conversation about the Bates hotel which used to be across the street from East Central High School on 11th street. I was very familiar with this hotel because as a kid I explored the dilapidated hotel several times. It was a really scary place to explore and as kids we usually ended up running out of it thinking that someone hiding inside and was after us.
The Deputy told us that the Bates Hotel was used by Gangsters traveling down route 66 because it set just outside the Tulsa city limits where they didn't have to worry about Tulsa Police. He said that one night some of these gangsters got into a shoot-out inside the hotel and killed the hotel manager's daughter. He also stated that there were more bad things than that going on in the Bates. Does anyone know of any stories about this Hotel?
I remember having seen the Bates Hotel listed in the yellow pages of an old Tulsa phone book, but it was listed as merely being "E of City" -- no specific address. I had always wondered where it had been and what it had looked like.
So does anyone else have stories about this place? Anyone know when it closed, and when it was finally demolished?
By the way, that same forum entry included a mention of another place I had always been curious about. I passed it thousands of times and always wondered why there was a white-painted two story brick building in the middle of nowhere, just south of Admiral Place and 165th East Ave. The building was dressed up as a bar for the movie The Outsiders and was demolished some years later. alanoftulsa says it was the Rose Dew Egg Farm, and he lived there. Evidently the farm gave its name to the subdivision built around it (or likely on land that once was part of the farm). I'd be interested to know more about this place as well.
UPDATE November 22, 2014:
The 1967 USGS aerial photos of Tulsa still show the Bates Tourist Hotel, located on the north side of 11th Street, across from the present-day location of the East Central High School football stadium. An interesting detail not revealed by the postcards: The building had nine dormers on the north side -- three corresponding to the three dormers above the main entrance, and three each on the west and east wings. That may indicate the number of rooms available upstairs. Based on the scale of the photos, the building appears to be about 140 feet long and only about 25 feet deep. The rooms must have been tiny, and it's likely that they were not (at least not originally) en suite.
About a month ago, my son and I were returning from a two-week car trip to visit colleges. We stopped just west of St. Louis at the visitor's center for Missouri's Route 66 State Park. The visitor's center has photos and artifacts highlighting the landmarks on the Show-Me State's section of the historic road, including the Coral Court Motel, the various caves on the route, the town of Times Beach, and Campbell's 66 Truck Lines ("Humpin' to Please"). (They also had a display of Buffalo Ranch memorabilia.) One display stopped me short:
The architecture was familiar -- the prominent dormers -- and the caption on postcard at the top said that there was a Sinclair Pennant Tavern on U. S. 66 in Tulsa, Okla. The Sinclair Pennant chain was originally known as Pierce Pennant. The Route 66 News review of the book Route 66 Treasures mentions that the Pierce Pennant chain "sought sites every 125 miles on the fledgling U. S. 66."
Sure enough, it appears that the Bates Tourist Hotel was originally a Pierce Pennant Tavern. The 66postcards.com website, which arranges postcards and other photos from the route in sequential order from east to west (with impressive accuracy, even within cities), has three views of the same hotel: A postcard of the Tulsa Pierce Pennant Terminal, a photo of the Tulsa Pierce Pennant Motel (from the Beryl Ford Collection), and the above postcard of the Bates Tourist Hotel. The vegetation has changed, but the fenestration is identical.
The caption on the Pierce Pennant Terminal postcard reads (in neat copperplate type):
A Terminal Building and Filling Station Island of Pierce Pennant Terminals System
Facilities include: 154-person restaurant, women's rest room, soda and sandwich lobby
Interesting that initially it isn't called a hotel, but a "terminal" and later a "tavern."
This page, showing a photo of Pierce Pennant china, says that the company opened its first motor hotel in Springfield, Mo., in 1928, but by 1930, they had sold the chain to Sinclair. "This first motor hotel complex included a bus terminal, restaurant, soda fountain, restrooms, gas station, automobile shop and car washing facilities." This picture of the Springfield Pierce Pennant terminal looks more like a bus station and gas station.
The Pierce Pennant Hotel in Columbia, Mo., was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The main hotel building still stands at 1406 W. Business Route 70 and is part of the Candlelight Terrace Retirement Center. The hotel, which opened in 1929, was built to high standards (slate roofs, copper on the cupola, piers down to bedrock, metal laths under plaster for interior walls, solid brass light fixtures, "recognized by contractors as one of the best constructed buildings in the Columbia area)."
The National Register application for the Columbia Pierce Pennant Hotel mentions a separate "terminal building" with a description that sounds very much like the above Tulsa post card. The description of the windows is an exact match.
The second major building of the Pennant complex, originally known as the Terminal, is of the same general colonial style as the hotel-garage. It has two stories and an attic. The overall dimensions are ninety feet by thirty-five feet. The building consists of a central section, with wings on the east and west wings have six windows. The lobby section has four windows and a doorway on the first floor and five windows on the second floor, the window above the entrance being of the same width as the first floor doorway. A small portico shelters the entrance to the lobby. The attic has three dormer windows, facing north. On the roof are three chimneys; the extra chimneys were possibly connected to the operations carried on in the kitchen area.
Just off the lobby were restrooms for men and women. An emergency hospital with a trained nurse on duty was contiguous to the women's restrooms. On the second floor was a large dining room sixty-two feet by forty feet and an auxiliary dining area forty feet by twenty-three feet. Folding doors, which could be opened to provide space for a large group of diners or for a dance party, separated the two dining rooms. The kitchen was just west of the dining section. The third floor was occupied by employees of the terminal.
There is a photo of part of the terminal building on page 19 of the application:
At some point, it would seem, the hospital and dining areas in the Tulsa Sinclair Pennant Tavern were converted to motel rooms.
UPDATE 2015/12/03: Reader Kevin Gray writes that the next Pierce Pennant up Route 66, on the north side of Miami, OK, was used during World War II as offices for the British Flying Training School #3, which was operated by Spartan. "The old motel was offices, and barracks were built behind and around it. The athletic fields were behind the barracks, and the airfield, runway and hangars were immediately behind the athletic field." More about the Miami Royal Air Force school here. 15 RAF cadets are buried at Miami's Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery and are honored in an annual remembrance ceremony. More here about World War II RAF training schools in Oklahoma.
Interpretation of the zoning text to determine the classification of the Meadow Gold sign.
The giant neon Meadow Gold sign (click that link to see a picture from 1957) used to sit atop a building on the southwest corner of 11th and Lewis. Car dealer Chris Nikel tore down the building for parking, but never used the space, and has since moved his dealership to Broken Arrow.
Before the building was demolished, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture raised money to put the Meadow Gold sign into storage. (Here are photos of the disassembly process.) The new location for the sign is on the southwest corner of 11th & Quaker, where it will sit atop a specially-built platform. The property is zoned CH -- commercial high intensity.
Evidently there is some ambiguity about what kind of use the Meadow Gold sign is, which would affect how it would be treated under the zoning code. As Use Unit 22 (Business Signs and Outdoor Advertising), it is a use by right in CH, but there are numerous restrictions and conditions which may make that classification problematic.
It's been a while since I looked at this in detail, but I seem to recall that Tulsa's zoning code is not friendly to neon, particularly animated neon. Whatever the outcome of the BOA case, Tulsa's planners and elected officials ought to make sure that our laws encourage the maintenance of existing neon and creation of new neon, particularly along old Route 66.