August 31, 2012 – Choctaw, Prague, Stroud, Chandler, Warwick, Luther, Arcadia, Edmond and Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
This morning I attended Dick Manning’s funeral. It was held at the 1st Baptist Church in Choctaw which is the church, I believe, for which he did the stained glass windows. The service was a nice one. Several people recounted how Dick always greeted people with “Como esta usted tennis shoe”. Roughly translated that means How are you kid (ked). Some wondered if they are even still making Keds, but it was Dick’s way to play with words. His other signature was entering or leaving a room singing Turn off the lights, the party’s over. 2 of his granddaughters and one of his sons spoke of their time with him especially learning about stained glass. Dick was an award winning stained glass artist. His Oklahoma state flag in stained glass won 1st place at the Oklahoma State Fair several years ago. He made a carousel which had several horses on it and was not designed to move. However, he decided that it should, so he tinkered until he was able to put a motor on it and have the horses move up and down as the carousel rotated. Whatever Dick did, he did to the best of his ability and with all of his being. He was an outstanding square dance caller and won the most prestigious award given to square dance callers in 1999. He always had a smile on his face and never met a stranger. He is going to be missed by his 3 children, 11 grandchildren and 1 great granddaughter.
After the funeral I visited with some of the Stillwater folks who came to the funeral and with Judy Robertson. Judy was Patsy’s roommate for a trip to the 2009 Rose Bowl Parade while Sarah was my roommate. At that time, Judy was talking about retiring. She retired in June of this year and is really enjoying it. She said that she thought she would miss work and that she would go back to have lunch with some of the folks, but she has discovered that she doesn’t want to do that or that she even cares about what goes on there. We both agreed that we were glad to be retired and that we really did not care and that whatever went on where we formerly worked that we were glad that it was NMP (not my problem – Thanks Janie for that.)
I decided not to go to the cemetery because it was really hot. They were going to have a full military honors ceremony. I decided that I really didn’t want to stand out in that heat. So, I took off and did some sightseeing. I decided to go to Stroud and follow Route 66 back to OKC. Before I left Choctaw I visited the Rock Island caboose which is parked by the current railroad track.
I followed route 62 to Prague where I headed north to Stroud. I had seen the signs for the National Shrine of the Infant Jesus of Prague several times so I decided to stop and see it. The statue was made in 1629 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. It had long history of being honored and then forgotten. It did perform a large number of miracles and blessing when it was honored. I’m a little unclear how it made its way to the Sisters of Mercy in the US after the war, but it died and was given to the pastor of the St. Wenceslaus Church in Prague, Oklahoma. The pastor was told that if the church would honor the Infant that they would be blessed and that the very poor Czech community would acquire the money it needed to build a new church and that is just what happened. The monument is inscribed with the words “The more you honor me, The more I will bless you”.
On the way to Stroud from Prague, I passed a memorial which the Sac and Fox Tribe have erected to honor all the warriors of the tribe who have died in the service of their tribe and/or of the US. The flags which were flying at the monument were the US, Sac and Fox, MIA, and flags of each of the services – Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. It was a nice memorial.
In Stroud, I went looking for the shoe tree. It is actually about 3 or 4 miles east of Stroud. There are 2 dead trees which still have shoes on them and a new live tree which is now collecting shoes. I have no idea what the reason for the tree(s) is unless it is an advertising gimmick for a trading post souvenir shop which is located there. It didn’t look like much so I didn’t go in.
Back in Stroud, I ate at the Rock Café which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The food was good and was cooked on a grill named Betsy which has been in operation since 1939. In 70+ years she has cooked 5 million hamburgers and other foods. She is 4’ long and 2’ wide and weighs over 200 pounds. When the Rock Café burned in 2008 only Betsy and the 4 walls were left. The Café has been rebuilt and continues to operate as it did during its and Route 66’s glory years. The owner is the inspiration for the car Sally in the movie Cars. Route 66 trivia printed on the menu include that the road passes through 3 time zones, 8 states and is approximately 2448 miles long – approximate because the road was re-routed several times.
As I left town I sought out the Alien Yard Art in someone’s backyard. It is clearly visible from Route 66. All I can say is that someone has way too much time on his/her hands. There is an UFO complete with alien emerging from it as well as a pickup truck with Mickey Mouse driving it, a 3 masted sailing ship and miscellaneous other figures.
In Davenport, I saw the 1933 restored Texaco station which now houses the Early Bird Diner. I drove into town and saw 2 really nice murals which depict the history of the town.
The next sighting along Route 66 was the Lincoln Motel in Chandler. It is a classic 1930’s style motel with individual cottages housing 2 units each. It looks much as it looked in picture post cards from the 1930’s.
Also in Chandler, there is an historic Texaco filling station which they are currently restoring. I understand that it has been used as a museum and will presumably be used that way again.
In Warwick, there is a 1924 filling station which was continuously operated until 1996 and is currently being used as a motorcycle museum.
Near Luther there is the Boundary Restaurant. As far as I can tell, it is new, but it is built on the Indian Meridian. The Indian Meridian was the eastern boundary of the 1889 land run. It is also the north south line from which every foot of land in an immense area including Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska is referenced in every deed as being east or west of the Indian Meridian.
The next stop was to look at the ruins of a 1920’s filling station. Now, there are lots of ruins of houses, filling stations, restaurants and other businesses along route 66. What makes this one so special that it is a National Historic Place? It was probably better known for something which had nothing to do with gas – it really made its living by counterfeiting $10 bills! The interior is so small I’m not sure where they put the printing press.
Just outside of Arcadia is a place I’d like to go back to. John Hargrove, a former airplane and bus mechanic retired and needed a hobby. He briefly considered rebuilding wrecked airplanes and selling them, but he decided there might be some liability issues – so since he had always been fascinated with route 66 or the “Mother Road” he decided to build replicas of famous route 66 sites. In 1998, he sold everything, bought a piece of land along route 66 just outside of Arcadia and began. He has never actually seen most of the originals. So far, he has made his own version of the following: Cadillac Ranch (one VW with its nose buried in the ground), Twin Arrows, a wigwam motel room, a kachina doll and the blue whale of Catoosa plus lots more. It was getting late, around 5 p.m., when I got there. The gate was still open, but it looked like the kind of place where the owner shows you around, and you could be there for hours. So, I didn’t go in, but I want to go back and spend some time there. It looks like it could be a lot of fun.
In Arcadia there is a Round Barn which has been made into a museum. It was closed when I got there but some of the reviews I read of it said that seeing it from the outside was good enough.
Just down the road from the Round Barn is Pops Soda Ranch. In front of it is the World’s Largest Pop Bottle. It lights up at night, but I wasn’t there at night so don’t know what it looks like then. It is an advertising gimmick which draws folks into the soda store. They sell soda from all over the world and specialize in those that are obscure and hard to find. The store is organized by type – cola, orange, grape, etc. They have some 500 or so kinds of soda. They also serve burgers and ice cream and sell gas.
There is a giant cross just outside Edmond which I’ve passed hundreds of times. This time I stopped, as it is just off route 66 and marks the exit for 66 from I-35. It is on a huge compound of a church named the Lifechurch.tv. It has a church as well as recreational facilities including tennis courts, ball fields, etc. The cross is 137’ tall so while it is not the biggest cross in the US it is very impressive.
The last stop of the day was the Oklahoma Firefighters Museum. I went there to see the stuffed horses that pulled fire engines. The museum was closed when I got there, but I didn’t mind. The grounds were open, and they have a moving memorial to fallen firefighters. It is well worth getting off I-35 to see it.
That completed my day. Tomorrow, I’m going to see some things in downtown OKC as well as explore west of the city.