Archives for posts with tag: Tulsa OK

In my old age, as I drove along, I thought it was a pretty good thing to be able to take a trip by myself. I’d been to a funeral for a sweet friend the day before, enforcing the knowledge that I would be going to more of them each year until my own. It was good to be on the road, very good.

I’d been planning a trip to Oklahoma City for the extraordinary exhibit, “Matisse in his time,” the only place it would appear in the US. I was up early and left earlier than I’d planned and found myself the first one there, which was rather strange for a world class show. I wasn’t that early and was soon joined by a man who had flown in from Houston that morning for the show and was as surprised as I was. He had worked for NASA and then for a graphic arts company and was retired to play, which meant a spur of the moment trip that had him getting up at 3:00 am to fly here. Anyway, such was the draw of Matisse. I love that this opened the exhibit!IMG_8399

Anyway, being first in line meant that I was first in the galleries since I didn’t stop to get the headsets. I understand those, but love to experience art for myself. I know enough to appreciate and can read the excellent information posted around the galleries. In the first gallery, I was met by a young security guard and greeted him with a smile. I worked at a museum and appreciate them. This cutie asked me if I’d like to hear something fun and I said sure and he showed me some tidbits about some of the paintings from Matisse’s early works. He ended it with, “I just learned this five minutes ago.” I’d watched the staff being prepped before the doors opened. He was so pumped for the crowd.

I had the galleries to myself for awhile while the people in line behind me did who knows what as they got their tickets downstairs so I absorbed what I could in the quiet before the kids from a boys and girls club, all in matching bright blue t-shirts, who had been waiting with me burst into the galleries. I mean, really, what can be more fun than to watch kids seeing great art for maybe the first time in their lives. They disappeared and came back as they flitted between galleries ahead of and behind me. As I stood before a nude study, I realized that two little boys, one African American and one white, had come up beside me. To their credit, there were no giggles although they were a little wide eyed.

I had many favorites, including this one from 1922, “Interior in Nice, the Siesta.” I related to the colors, the subject, the whole vibe. That’s how art works.IMG_8400It wasn’t a large painting at all. When I saw this Picasso, I felt a big smile. Oh you, Picasso, you! “Rocking Chair” was one of my favorites I kept returning to. Maybe I saw my future!IMG_8415I won’t spoil the show for you, but it was pretty spectacular for art lovers. To think he spent his last years cutting designs and creating fanciful treats for us to enjoy all these years later. Thank you, Matisse!IMG_8425I went downstairs to see the permanent Chihuly exhibition and the rest of the museum, going back through the Matisse show before I finally left. Chihuly brightens my day and brings joy to my heart. Having tried glass blowing, I can only say it takes not only creative talent but an enormous amount of strength to master the manipulation of the hot, heavy glass. His work always makes me go Wow!IMG_8406Since I was by myself, I thought I would do some things I’d been wanting to do. Next was the Oklahoma City National Memorial, just blocks away. Did I mention I was born in Oklahoma City and lived there until my family moved to Tulsa when I was 2 1/2, back in 1948. I spent much of my life traveling back to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and even spent work time here later on. It is a part of me.

When the Oklahoma City bombing occurred, it rocked this state to the core. All of us knew someone who was close to the site or affected by it. My husband and I had driven over a few days afterward and stood by the fence in shock at the horror and the extent of the damage. I could see broken windows for blocks, even in the old Central High blocks from the site, where my father had graduated. My family’s company had started a few blocks away. It was a local, state and national tragedy. I still have a box of magazines and newspapers from those days when the media printed it on covers and in large headlines. We never will forget it. I have driven by the memorial since then, but had never gone in. I’m not sure I was ready.

The memorial is one of the most beautiful and powerful tributes I think I’ve ever seen. As I walked by the last of the walls I had seen with dust and smoke still rising back in 1995, I was calmed by the serenity and magnitude of the famous gates and reflecting pond with the chairs for each victim so meaningly placed. At night, I think I would be overcome with the beauty with the chairs lighted from underneath. IMG_8437

I was also so inspired by the Survivor Tree, the lone tree that had been scorched by the blast and survived to shade us all as we look over the scene. You can see it on the hill beyond. It’s a miracle of nature and life. And, you can’t help but feel your heart tighten as you see the small chairs of the children who died so horribly that day. Like Kennedy’s assassination years before, this was another turning point in our country’s tragic history as we faced more violence and hatred. After a last glance at the reflecting pond, I went into the museum, something I had been dreading.IMG_8439A couple of years ago, I toured the JFK Memorial in Dallas and I felt the same way about this one. I lived through it and it is so painful to walk through each detail again. Both are wonderful walks through our history with details that take you right into the moment if you were here at that time. For those who are younger, these are important ways to understand and learn what happened, bringing it to life. In the OKC memorial, you walk into an exhibit that shows what a normal day it was and then you wait to enter a room that is a copy of the ordinary meeting room where the Water Resources Board was meeting that fateful meeting. They had recorded the meeting and you sit in a closed room listening to a woman start the meeting, giving instructions, greeting the visitors, knowing that you are going to hear an actual recording of the bomb exploding. I was lulled into listening to her as she routinely did her job and then jolted by the sounds of bomb, screams, hysteria and confusion. You then enter the rest of the story. I didn’t spend too much time there as the photos and sounds were so very familiar to me. I stood in the memorial room, looking at the portraits of the victims, hearing their names as they were called as each person’s picture was lit. Powerful stuff to see the miniature memorials of stuffed animals, tokens of memory placed by families. Powerful. I was ready to race back into the 100 degree heat and rest in the memorial outside, standing in the shade of the huge tree that showed us we can make it, even through such atrocities.

Leaving there, I wove back to the north of downtown, passing beautiful historic homes and buildings I had driven by most of my life until I reached the neighborhood my grandparents first lived in when they moved to OKC way back when my father was young. Their block is being restored, except for their house which is in terrible condition. I hope the artists and builders buy it soon before it has to be torn down. I was so taken with the loving care with which they are rebuilding the neighborhood. This is where my grandparents raised their four children. Their youngest son is shown behind them on the porch in this fuzzy photo. He was to die at 19 in World War II.Scan 54Here they are, relaxing in that wonderful home, much smaller than I remember it when we gathered for dinners and holidays. My grandad had his workshop in the garage in back and the big kids got to eat at the big table in the room behind the kitchen at the back of the house. The smaller children ate at the kid’s table in the kitchen. The beds were so tall that we could crawl under them easily and had endless games of hide ‘n seek.  We played on that porch and walked that street for hours.July 1949Driving around the corner, I saw the movie theatre we used to walk to, now an antiques mall…DSC_0135…and parked across the street for a fried chicken lunch. It seemed like the right thing to do and the right area to be in.IMG_8447After drinking as much liquid and eating fried chicken and fried okra, I headed further north with the goal of visiting my grandparents’ grave, very far north in a city that sprawls forever. Driving past the more affluent areas where my grandparents and cousins lived later, I finally arrived at the cemetery. I have to tell you that my family isn’t much for visiting graves and I hadn’t been here since my grandmother died in 1977. My parents were both cremated, which I agree with, so here we are. I’ve visited all my grandparents’ graves now along with my great-grandparents, so I’m up to date. There are mixed feelings about graves for me. They are interesting, but I’m obviously not out there all the time. I don’t know if we are losing some history, but I’m about dust to dust too. I’m being cremated myself.

Anyway, I easily found my destination with help from the map I got from the nice lady at the front of the cemetery. What a job – waiting for visitors like me. My grandparents had purchased lots for everyone but ended up being the only ones here, joined on the headstone as they were for 55+ years in life, not counting the years they knew each other growing up. I hadn’t brought flowers, which would have fried in the 115 degree heat index day, so I took a wipe and cleaned the bird poop off the headstone, had a conversation with them and took pictures before I left. Sweet moment. As I took a quick drive further into the cemetery, I saw a monument in the middle of the road ahead. Hmmm. Guess who?IMG_8458Wiley Post, the great aviator from Oklahoma who died in the Alaskan plane crash with his friend, Will Rogers.

Turning towards home, I took back roads until I reached the interstate, because it it almost impossible to get around OKC and all its sprawl without using them at some point. I turned onto the turnpike and was quickly bored with passing and watching big trucks and hurried traffic and took the first exit onto Route 66 to head to Tulsa.DSC_0017I hadn’t been on this stretch in a few years, so it was a new adventure. There are places with stories like this.DSC_0018And then you turn a corner and then modern times hit you as you meet the new Iowa tribe.DSC_0019In the eastern side of Oklahoma, we have brown dirt, regular dirt. About halfway between Tulsa and OKC, you begin to see the red dirt, clay colored dirt. Growing up, we would play in this bright stuff, staining our summer clothes. I guess my mother knew how to get it out because I’m picturing white shorts and tennis shoes with globs of red mud on them. Anyway, that memory came back as I saw this scene with cows and ducks cooling off in the red muddy waters.DSC_0021Across the road, there was a farm with green plants pushing up through the red earth.DSC_0022I kept turning around and going back to see these things. On the last pass by this field, where I had stopped to take pictures, I had to stop at this sign, conditioned by my mother who never saw a road-side stand she didn’t love. IMG_8464I mean, you have to stop, don’t you? Especially when you can meet Mr. Wilson himself.IMG_8463I know he thinks I’m the most ignorant city girl he’s ever seen as I asked him questions about how hard it is to grow crops in that red soil. Of course, he smiled his missing tooth smile and told me it’s no problem if you have water. Of course. And I purchased potatoes and peaches and tomatoes from him, even though I asked and he told me that these weren’t his crops as his aren’t ripe yet. Duh. Of course they aren’t. I know when Oklahoma crops come in. But I wanted to keep his stand going, chickens running around with its cute painted things and all sorts of quirky items on the ground.

Heading down Route 66, coming into Stroud, I turned around when I saw this in a back yard, visible along the road. It was great with the laundry flapping on the line and the aliens playing in the yard flanked by skulls. Isn’t this why you take Route 66?DSC_0032DSC_0053Following along, I approached Depew and took the truck route through the mostly deserted town. It had its own charm as I drove the main street, thinking of the people who came from all over the country to travel this road.DSC_0056IMG_8466Leaving Depew, I crossed the old railroad tracks leading east.DSC_0059Now I was passing through other towns that had jumped on the Route 66 bandwagon and restored their main streets with antique shops and restaurants and museums for those who are hitting the off roads again. Occasionally, I saw one of these signs and jumped off the current Route 66 onto the old one.DSC_0034Driving for just a stretch, I would imagine how it must have been with new fangled cars heading across the country on great adventures – without the air conditioning I was enjoying so much! Whew! These old stretches have wildflowers still alive before our stretch of summer heat wilts them all.DSC_0049At a house on the old road, I saw this basketball goal where someone had made Old Hwy 66 into a private court.DSC_0043Here’s the old sign you see in the background.DSC_0044Turning back from this little touch of the old Mother Road…DSC_0037I kept going, stopping and turning around for things like this that caught my eye as I made my way home.DSC_0060And this. I saw the sign from the road and then turned onto the next street with another one of those Old Hwy 66 signs.DSC_0063It was deserted, but must have been a lot of fun at one time.IMG_8473IMG_8472That was my day on the road alone, not rushing anywhere and stopping to see whatever. Adventures and people I wasn’t expecting made me arrive home hot and happy. I should do this every week, this getting in the car and going somewhere. There’s so much to see out there in ordinary places and I’m old enough to enjoy it and young enough to do it. Thanks for coming with me…

Anyone who travels a certain route begins to recognize certain things along the way, things that mark where you are in your drive, how far you have to go. It’s kind of a subtle thing where you suddenly notice something and are kind of amazed that you’ve missed it before and then it becomes something you look for. And you add to your collection of travel markers the more you drive that way.

For me, it’s been driving Highway 51 between Tulsa and Stillwater for the past couple of years. People are amazed that I prefer the old road to the turnpike – and the turnpike is fine – but I really like this old road, the same one I drove when I was in college with massive road improvements in the last 50 years, thank goodness. It was longer and more dangerous back then, more curves and curves and curves. Now it’s pretty much a straight shot from here to there and back again.

I call it my zen drive where I think and watch and look for new things along the way. Since I travel with my camera, I’ll stop and take a picture of something I want to remember (because that’s what I do). Here’s kind of a travelogue of the trip. There are some things I love that I can’t get photos of because there’s no place to stop or I haven’t stopped yet. But, you’ll get the picture.

When I leave Tulsa, I drive through beautiful historic neighborhoods before crossing the Arkansas River heading west. I’m now crossing over the railroad yards and into an industrial area. When I return, I get a wonderful view through oil refineries with trains running through and the skyline of Tulsa in the backdrop. It makes me realize how our city grew from its early days.DSC_0043Here’s the view when I pull up the hill into Chandler Park and look back.IMG_9932I’m mixing pictures coming and going, so there are views from east and west. Bear with me.

Then, I turn onto Avery Road, which winds around under Chandler Park with the Arkansas River to the north of me. This is one of the most nostalgic pieces of the trip to me, although it’s curvy and narrow. No pictures of the drive because there are few places to stop, but you have views of the river in the winter and lush greenery in the summer. There are bluffs to admire as you drive under them and colors of fall and spring to enjoy. This is entering Avery Drive from the west side as I come home. There are more hairpin turns to come.DSC_0037As soon as I turn off of Avery Drive, I see one of my favorite landmarks, a memory of all the years I’ve driven this road. It’s the Monarch Cement…what is it? Pretty cool anyway. In the summer, it’s covered in greenery.DSC_0001Coming from the west, you see it in full frontal, although I still can’t figure out all the words on it. Monarch Cement Co.  ???? Dept. From the west, I can see it from miles away.DSC_0023On the straight road past that, there is usually a train either parked or passing. Who doesn’t love seeing trains? I even love all the tags left by rogue artists decorating the train cars.DSC_0036DSC_0041Next, around the corner, is the little town of Lotsee. I’ve looked it up and it’s named after the owner’s daughter. The whole place is hardly more than a few lots long along the highway as you pass the Lotsee city limit signs on each side in about 15 seconds at 65 mph. From the west, you spot the big cow sign.DSC_0035I’ve actually stopped in to buy pecans and they have lots of varieties in the fall. It’s a 2,000 acre cattle and pecan ranch with horseback riding added called the Flying G Ranch. I don’t think Lotsee was there, but I met her husband, the only two official inhabitants of Lotsee, OK. They are Oklahoma State University people, so we had that in common.

Over the hills, past the Keystone dam, headed for Mannford, you cross over a small part of Lake Keystone and a quick view of the lake. That’s fun as you watch the weather on the water with either peaceful calm or windy whitecaps. Heading into Mannford, I’ve started looking over for this funny sign that I noticed when I stopped there once.DSC_0003Awesome!

Leaving Mannford, you head into areas where your cell phone service can go in and out as you drive through hills with breaks for views across the way. As you cross Cottonwood Creek, you can see an area that links to Keystone and is sometimes dry and sometimes swampy with rainfall. Somewhere along the way, you see this row of mailboxes for inhabitants you can’t see from the road.DSC_0032I also met these guys last week around that area. A couple of weeks before, some of them had escaped somewhere and I found myself passing three black cows as they ambled along the shoulder of the road.DSC_0027Then I cross the Cimarron River, which has the most beautiful view of bluffs, shadowed in the morning and glowing in afternoon light. I look both ways as I cross over. Cimarron reminds of the land run and the book and movie Cimarron and Oklahoma in general.  Miles past this, the road rises and I can look to the south when I’m heading east and see where the river turns into the countryside.DSC_0017One of the great surprises of the drive came this winter when I noticed a herd by the side of the road and turned back to check it out. Sure enough, it was a herd of bison near the crossroads where you can turn towards Oilton. Now I check for it all the time, coming or going. Once I pulled over to watch them and a highway patrolman stopped to see if everything was ok. That was a nice feeling because he was thoughtfully checking on me and I told him I was just watching the bison. He may have thought that was a bit much, but I always find them interesting.DSC_0014This stretch of highway I drive is only about 65 miles and I see all kinds of animals. There are lots of cows, horses, sheep, goats, and even a llama. As I head towards Yale, OK, home of the great athlete Jim Thorpe, 

This building as you come to Yale from the east is intriguing. The basketball goal with the old building is a story of some kind out here along the road.IMG_0051Coming into Yale, I always enjoy this place, whatever the weather. Peacefully falling down in its own time.IMG_6427I slow down as I come into Yale because I know there is a watchful policeman there and I’ve been to their traffic court once (enough). Going slow, I noticed this patriotic painting.DSC_0030Leaving Yale, I cross Salt Creek and am always happy to see the herd of donkeys in a field. There have been adorable babies, but I haven’t caught a picture yet. How many animal herds have I mentioned in this relatively short drive? Not to mention chickens. DSC_0029Past the Salt Creek Arena, I drive through woods where I once saw a deer step out in the early morning until I reach the intersection where my Sky Barn is seen best as you drive from west to east. I did a whole post on it.DSC_0253Past that are the archaeologically interesting Twin Mounds, where remnants of Civil War camps have been found. You only catch a glimpse of both of them coming from west to east. I learned about them when I stopped at the best little museum and antique shop ever, which is a couple of miles off of Highway 51 near Stillwater. I’ll have to write a whole post on this treasure of Oklahoma regional history.IMG_9145Next is one of the goat farms I pass. DSC_0045A new landmark for me is this field that I’ve passed so many times. Recently, I was driving on a clear day and the sky became hazy, smoky for no apparent reason. As I approached this place, the field had been burned in the few hours since I drove by in the morning. I’m hoping it was a controlled burn but it didn’t do much damage. Here is it is right after the burning.DSC_0005Within three days, I could barely tell it had burned for all the green. Amazing. About three weeks later, this same spot looks like this. Gotta love nature.DSC_0010When I pulled off to take this picture, I spotted a Scissortail Flycatcher, Oklahoma’s state bird, on the fence.DSC_0013I now look for this house as I pass. I saw it once and couldn’t find it again for awhile. Now I know the landmarks to look for so I can nod as I pass. In the country, you don’t have to worry about taking down old houses and barns. Charming really.DSC_0004

On the final stretch into Stillwater, I pass a farm with several pumpjacks on Clay Road (my son’s name was Clay). I always look for this one to read the sign and smile. This week, the Indian Paintbrush is in bloom. Gorgeous.

DSC_0003Sometime, I’ll do a post on the different pumpjacks, but this time I’ll just show you more Indian Paintbrush.DSC_0009DSC_0006Next is the road to historic Ingalls, location of one of the great western gunfights. I wrote a post about that awhile back.

And so my drive goes, never knowing who I will meet along the way…DSC_0044…driving into Stillwater where I pass this new exciting Transformer by the road…IMG_7820and see these familiar structures ahead. IMG_9942My final destination is Oklahoma State University with its beautiful campus, but this is the story of the road I take. I travel with beautiful sunrises…IMG_5136 IMG_0087 IMG_0092and sunsets…DSC_0001This trip reminds me to slow down and see all that is around me and notice something new every time. I travel from the city to the country to college town and back again. I drive through the Creek and Pawnee nations. I go from oil refineries and railroads to granaries and see the history of our state unfold before me. There are hills, woods, plains, fields and crops, farms, ranches, small towns, lakes and rivers, all changing with the season and the weather, different on cloudy days or different times of day when the slant of the light accents different objects and views. The skies are wide open and everything is there to remind me I’m alive and so glad to be here!

When I was a child, we would drive by the most exotic place I could imagine – exotic for Tulsa, Oklahoma anyway.  I had no idea what went on in there, even when I was old enough to know that it was a bar.  It was called the Green Dragon Lounge and on the outside wall, the Green Dragon followed me as I stared out the car window.

green dragonEven when the door was open, all I could see was darkness with a few lights and people.  What in the world was going on in that interesting place? By the time I was old enough to go inside, it was gone and only the memory stayed with me.

I found this photo of the dragon and it all came back to me.  I’m imagining myself as a little girl, staring out the back window of the car, watching for it to appear and then following it as we passed.  I never asked my parents.  I quietly imagined and wondered.

Sometimes in life, having an imagination is better than the reality.

My grandmother used to say, “Let’s go do something!”  It didn’t have to be much, but we weren’t going to be bored with her around.  At her house in Ardmore, Oklahoma, I used to spend my summer days looking at the stuff in her cedar chest, exploring the garage, swinging on the porch swing, picking pears from the tree in back, catching horned toads, walking to the ice plant, and going downtown with her to see my uncle at the bank or to the department store or to get ice cream.   We ran through sprinklers and sucked on Kool-Aid (the real kind with lots of sugar) frozen in ice trays into squares to keep cool.  I honestly never felt bored.

I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be spontaneous these days.  I used to have a few friends or relatives around who were up for jumping up on the spur of the moment and doing something, but they have moved or are gone or are less eager these days.  My mother always told me to never turn down an invitation.  I try to remember that, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.  It’s the excuses that bother me.  Why not?  Some of my best memories are of times that nothing was planned and special things happened.

When I was a child in Tulsa, we didn’t know what we would do most days in the summer and we didn’t care.  There were swim lessons and golf lessons and a few structured things here and there, but most of the time we were left to figure it out.  We played in the yard, stringing clover together into necklaces and bracelets, played tag, ran in the sprinklers some more, played card games and board games, lay on the bed in front of a fan, chased the milkman for ice chips, brought home stacks of books from the library, caught June bugs, ladybugs, and grasshoppers in the day time and lightning bugs at night and then lay on a blanket and counted the stars.  There were always kids around, riding their bikes or walking down the street.  We would gather a group to play work up in our side yard.  Work up was baseball when you didn’t have enough for two teams.  We played for hours and I don’t remember a dispute over a call.

Today, I took my granddaughter to her swimming lesson and was looking at a schedule for day camp.  That looked fun until I thought about the difference between having everything structured and doing what you felt like.  Don’t get me wrong.  I understand the need for structure and the need to have planned activities when you’re in charge of a bunch of kids. And I like organized sports.  But, it’s not the same as just playing.  The other night I watched three of my grandsons in the pool, making up games as they went along.  They went from pool basketball to pool baseball to throwing a beach ball around to playing soccer with the beach ball, changing as they felt like it, making up rules as they went along.  Total joy!

I wish all kids could walk to a neighbor’s and ring the doorbell to see if their friend could come out to play.  I wish kids could play ball, any kind of ball, without practice.  I wish kids could make up games and draw when they want to and read a book because they love it rather than because it’s on a school reading list.  The things I’ve been describing were simpler when there was no television and most moms stayed home and there were fewer organized camps and lessons and activities.

The world won’t go backwards, but we can still try our best to find ways for our children to have free, spontaneous time.  Sometime, when you’re exhausted from work and just want to sit, pull yourself up and get everyone out of the house to a park for a walk or to a creek or something, anything, unexpected.  This applies to every age.  Old people – get up and get out.  Find a friend to take a drive, walk along the river, get ice cream. Or do it alone. It won’t kill you and it might even brighten your day.  Do Something, Anything you weren’t planning to do.

One thing about spontaneous actions is that they make you smile.  And we all need to smile a lot every day!

Scan 17


I’m supervising one of my 16-year old grandsons this weekend (I have two, almost three, that age right now), watching him with his friends going out in their cars. Supervising means watching with the eye of someone who remembers being 16, remembers the exhilaration of being out of the house in a car without your parents. I remember all the silliness, the stupidity, the fun of being 16.

In Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the early ’60s when I was a teen, we cruised. Most of us didn’t have our own, so we borrowed our parents’ cars. I remember wishing they didn’t have such nice cars so it would look like they were actually mine. I don’t think I ever ran an errand for my mother without stopping to pick up a friend and racing to the drive-in. I bet a 15-minute run to the grocery store took me over an hour…I appreciate my mother’s patience and understanding now.

My life was the Tulsa version of “American Graffiti.” That movie truly was our story, our music, our lives. We were college bound, smart, good kids, doing teenage things. If you lived in our part of town, you cruised Peoria, Brookside. Other parts of town had their own strip. Peoria was so popular it got the nickname the “Restless Ribbon” for all the teens cruising up and down. We drove down the street over and over from 31st to 51st, watching for friends, cute guys. When you saw someone you knew, you honked your school or club honk. Our radios were blaring with rock ‘n roll from KAKC. We were noisy in those days before someone decided it was noise pollution. Probably someone who forgot what it was to be young.

When we stopped at an intersection, you sometimes revved your engine. You flirted with whoever was in the next car. You raced up and down the street. You sometimes jumped at the light, racing a short distance. A game was to see if you could jump out of the car, run around it and get back in before the light changed. I didn’t say we were street smart, just school smart. We didn’t have seat belts and piled as many kids in a car as we could. I once piled in a car with about 10 guys to go to a football game. They teased me and I loved it.

The hub of our world was Pennington’s Drive-In. We cruised through the rows, looking for a prime place to stop on “Soc (pronounced Sosh) Row,” the middle row. Pole Position was right at the front where you saw everyone and everyone saw you. Sherry was the cute carhop and Jake was the security cop. Arch and Lola Pennington were inside, taking orders, making the onion rings, dinner rolls, hamburgers, chicken and shrimp baskets and black bottom pie I long for right now. You pulled in and ordered your vanilla or cherry or cherry vanilla Dr. Pepper and waited for the car hop to attach the tray to your window while you watched to see who else was there and then either greeted them or pretended you didn’t know that carload of guys was watching your carload of girls.

We went to Pennington’s for lunch, a quick 30 minute race between the school and the drive-in that seems impossible with today’s traffic. We did it, though, sliding into our desks just as the bell rang. We went after school, after club meetings, after football games, after movies, on dates before you “parked.” I won’t elaborate…you know what I mean. There was nothing like being with someone you liked, knowing everyone saw you together. When you went home and called your friends on the actual phone with a cord, you talked about who you saw cruising, who was at Pennington’s.

There were other places on the Restless Ribbon. Mr. T’s was at 36th & Peoria, although that was more of a hangout for the guys. When I was a senior, someone opened a private club for teens, the Ship’s Wheel, at 41st & Peoria. My boyfriend joined and we went there to sit and talk and to dance to live bands. I don’t think it lasted long…I only remember it my senior year. Mostly, we just cruised. It was what we did, cruised and talked and laughed and listened to music and looked for our friends and suffered awkward silences with new dates and sweet moments with special ones.

Last Friday night, I cruised Peoria again, as I have done for most of my life. This particular time I was with my 4-year old granddaughter and we headed to the drive-in, the drive-in pharmacy this time, and then down the street to the frozen yogurt shop. I passed the place where Pennington’s was, a Kentucky Fried Chicken now, and had a memory of what once was. Usually I go by without a thought, but that night it all flooded back. I was on the same street I’d cruised so many times. It was crowded and busy with shops and restaurants, still a hub of town, of the neighborhood. It was only 7:30, the Restless Ribbon was getting busier with nightfall, just as it always has. I don’t know where my grandsons and their friends go because I know that they aren’t allowed to cruise like we did or stop and congregate without suspicious neighbors and the police watching and gas is more expensive and their parents (or grandparents) are checking on them with GPS and cell phones. Too bad.

I have a ribbon that runs through my mind of sweet memories…cruising with my friends.


One of my favorite walks is across the Pedestrian Bridge over the Arkansas River in Tulsa.  I love the feel of the aged wood planks under my feet and I love meeting the walkers, joggers, bikers, strollers, skaters, and fishermen who inhabit the tunnel.

I like the views of the city…

I like every side of the bridge…

I like the flag that greets me coming and going….

I like the continual discovery of patterns and designs along the bridge and in the river…

Mostly, I’m mesmerized by the shadows and angles of the bridge itself.

I have a hard time walking fast because there are so many things I want to take pictures of or stop and enjoy.  It’s always a beautiful walk over the river with more to see on the other side and then another beautiful walk back.  Such a treat…