Tulsa History: October 2009 Archives

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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa History category from October 2009.

Tulsa History: September 2009 is the previous archive.

Tulsa History: November 2009 is the next archive.

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