I left the Marriott Courtyard in Oklahoma City bright and early as I have to backtrack. It was dark for way too many towns and things I want to see for the last 100 miles or so.
A lady named J.D. asked about my beads in the elevator – the “Mardi Gras question.” She declined to let me take her photo, but I gave her my card, and she called on the cell phone later to invite me to come to the hospital to get a Mother’s Day photo of her with her mother. Unfortunately, I was well down the road by the time I got the voice mail message.
I drove west on Route 66 out of Oklahoma City. I saw a great steel bridge in Bethany, but there was no place to get over to take a photo. Bethany showed great patriotism with two flags on every light pole.
I was reminded of a travel tip last night. Be careful when using the hair dryer outlet in a hotel for charging your camera or cell phone as the reset button often needs to be hit.
Yukon is the hometown of Garth Brooks and the home of the Yukon Flour Mills. I reached the 10,000 mile mark between Yukon and El Reno. I stopped for a 10,000 mile photo – found an abandoned white house with a red roof.
The Deluxe Inn in El Reno used to be the Big 8 Motel and was featured in the movie “Rainman.” Someone bought it, changed the name, and went out of business. Dumb and dumber. I stopped at the very nice Heroes Plaza in El Reno – nice war memorial. I also stopped to see Jobe’s Charcoalburgers – a classic 60’s-era drive-in restaurant with those wonderful remote ordering stations like they had at the Char King in Lubbock and at similar drive-ins all across the country.
After road construction forced me to drive quite a ways in the wrong direction, I noted that every Route 66 state should have each and every Route 66 exit so marked. I believe Texas was the only state that seemed to do this.
It was a nice drive to Calumet and on to Geary – very green, peaceful farmland. I took a few photos in and around Geary. When I reached Hydro, I knew I was looking for Lucille’s, one of the best known Route 66 landmarks. Lucille Hamons operated Lucille’s from 1941 until the 1990’s. She was a very special lady, and she was called “the Mother of the Mother Road.” There was a Burma Shave sign in her honor leading up to the service station building, as well as a memorial to her along the fence next to the interstate. A faded sign in the window indicates Lucille’s will be auctioned off on ebay in August.
Harley and Annabelle made a point for me to go to Weatherford, Oklahoma to see Nettie’s. They said it was a lingerie and Harley Davidson wear store. Weatherford is also the home of astronaut Thomas P. Stafford, and an air and space museum there bears his name. Southwest Oklahoma State University is also in Weatherford. I drove down Route 66 and didn’t see Nettie’s when I reached the downtown area. I made a second pass and still didn’t see it. I parked the car, and as I walked down the street, I spotted it. It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured.
Inside, I met Nettie and her mother, Juanita, two ladies blessed to look a whole lot younger than they apparently are. And sweet as can be. I told them Harley and Annabelle had sent me, and we sat down in their “home away from home” in the back room and just talked and talked.
Nettie got her college degree. She went to work for a company for 10 years, but she always wanted to be her own boss. It was also their dream for mother and daughter to work together. Juanita was a mental health counselor, and neither of them had the money to start a business, but Nettie had a plan. She typed up her business plan, and took it to three banks in Weatherford. Three banks in Weatherford turned her down. They all wanted collateral, but she had none. She was single and had never even owned a home. Her car was paid for, and she had accumulated a lot of “expensive” sweaters. Refusing to give up, she went to see their hometown banker in Clinton Oklahoma. The banker gave her the loan just based upon knowing her and accepted her inventory as collateral on the loan. She paid the bank off in full over five years, and she’s been operating for eight years now.
She chose Weatherford because it’s a college town. She initially had ladies clothes directed at the college market and a few gifts, but she has added a number of interesting product lines over the years. Here’s the progression:
Ladies wear directed at the college market.
A few gift items.
Sexy lingerie for bridal shower gifts. Nettie notes there is no Victoria’s Secret in a small town like Weatherford, and she immediately began selling a ton of lingerie and still does.
Harley Davidson clothing. She saw some at a market and thought she could sell some of it, and now she carries every licensed Harley product she can get, and she does “REALLY well” with all of it.
Baby clothes came next. She figures her college customers buy some clothes, get engaged and buy sexy lingerie, and then have babies and need baby clothes. She reports the baby clothes sell like hotcakes.
Microdermabrasion was then added. I guess after a few babies, her customers are looking for younger skin.
The most recent addition is wheelchairs and walkers. Time marches on, I guess.
Needless to say, such a diverse product line would never work in larger towns. Nettie says “people ask how I can have this kind of stuff all mixed together, and I respond that there just are no other shops in town with any of what we sell, so it works.”
Nettie invited me to return to Canute that evening to go to a bar called Friends where Pinky and the Snakeshakers would be performing for a special party. I would have absolutely loved to see a group called Pinky and the Snakeshakers, but I have to be in Tulsa tomorrow morning to have breakfast with an old friend, so I’ll have to miss it. I’m sure my Kos friends will all be there.
It’s amazing what you can put together and be successful doing in America – especially in a small town.
Clinton is an interesting town. I enjoyed seeing Mad Dog Fireworks – a fireworks stand that just happens to be located right next to a big Army tank. Clinton has a number of interesting old motels, including the Trade Winds Inn. Elvis slept there, or so the sign says.
The big attraction in Clinton is the Oklahoma Route 66 museum. Harley and Annabelle told me to be sure to see it, and to stick my head in and say hi to Pat Smith, the director. I did just that, and I also met the two absolutely wonderful ladies who work there, Goldie and Lee, as well as two funny guests, Skip and Yvonne. We had a great time talking and laughing. Then I put a headset on and toured the museum. It is GREAT! The museum has wonderful displays and tells the whole story of Route 66. The museum is really well done – much better than the so-called National Route 66 Museum just down the road in Elk City, Oklahoma. Pat gave me a media kit and a museum mug. I bought a deck of Route 66 playing cards so Boz and I can use them the next time we crush Brittany and “Ace” in a Spade-A-Rama.
I asked the ladies where to eat, and they said “Jiggs Smoke House.” They warned me the servings are huge and not to order the kitchen sink.
I found Jiggs on the western outskirts of town. I walked in with five guys who just returned from a round of golf – Cory, Lance, Jake, Jeff, and Rick. Rick was a veteran of Jiggs Smoke House, and he advised me to order the Pig Sickle Sandwich – not the regular Pig Sickle Sandwich, but the Triple Pig Sickle Sandwich. I told him the ladies at the Route 66 museum warned me that the servings were huge and not to order the “kitchen sink.” Rick and Lynn, the owner, laughed and told me the “Kitchen Sink” is one of their truly massive specialties. They also have an even bigger sandwich called the Wooly Booger. I ordered the Triple Pig Sickle. The sandwich was truly unique and outstanding. I was too busy eating, telling stories, and listening to stories to investigate what all was inside the giant bowling ball-like bun, but it was the extremely tender rib meat off the bone, with cheese, and barbecue sauce. The only way to eat it was with a fork, and man was it good. The golfers were great fun, and Cory grew up in Snyder, Texas where he went to school with the daughter of Rick Hall, a fraternity brother of mine who died of skin cancer a few years ago.
I asked Rick what was the most unique thing about Clinton, and he proudly reported that their 4A football team has an absolutely incredible winning record over a zillion years. I drove back into town to take a picture of the stadium, but the picture apparently did not turn out. Sorry, Rick, but I was there and saw the very impressive high school stadium.
Backtracking complete, I hopped on the interstate to get back to where I started the day – Oklahoma City. It took me an hour and a half to cover the ground that I had spent 6½ hours traveling earlier today.
In Oklahoma City, I saw the National Memorial at the site of the former Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. It is an extremely moving and well-conceived memorial. There are big walls with the times 9:01 and 9:03 engraved on them — one wall represents the time one minute before the blast and the other represents one minute after. There is one small section of wall – all that remains from the building. A beautiful reflecting pool is in the center of the property bounded by the two big walls. In a field to the south are chairs –, one chair for each of the victims. There is a message spray painted on the wall of a neighboring building by the task force charged with solving the crime, an area for children, and sections of the fence where people have left tens of thousands of remembrances for the victims. You can’t see it without getting tears in your eyes! It is definitely something everyone should see.
I left the Memorial about 6:30 pm, so here I was a full daytime behind schedule. I would have added a day right there, but I had to be in Tulsa to see George Robertson tomorrow morning, and then I had to be in St. Louis for dinner with family on Mother’s day night, so I just had to do the best I could do.
I made it to Arcadia in time to see the wonderful round barn built in 1898. I took a few other photos of old service stations and the like.
I have been very surprised to see how green Oklahoma is. There are a lot of trees and rolling hills. Though I lived most of my life in Texas, I never spent any real time in Oklahoma, and I always had it pictured much like West Texas – flat, barren, and dusty. With apologies to all the Lucky Me’s and Stanley Marsh 3, Oklahoma is much prettier.
I managed to get a few photos in Chandler and a couple of barns with billboards painted on them advertising Meramec Caverns. I’m sure I missed a few enjoyable sights in this part of Oklahoma because night caught me.
When I reached Stroud, I was on the lookout for the Rock Café – another Route 66 landmark. I walked in, and four people gathered at the counter looked up. Tiffany immediately asked me whether I had gotten her beads out of her car. I assured her I had gotten my beads from the Floating Neutrinos, and I sat down like a local and we all talked for the next hour and a half. First, there were Amy, Joan, Tiffany, and Bryan. Bryan left and Ron joined us. Then Casey and Zach came in. I ordered the peach cobbler, and it was truly exceptional – definitely one of the best “pies” on the trip so far. Tiffany disappeared after a few minutes, and when I saw her again, she was handing me a string of her beads – bright shiny gold beads. How sweet was that!
I heard a lot of stories about Stroud, especially the tornado that all but wiped out the town a few years ago. Later that night, I learned that terrible tornados hit nearby — shortly after I drove on.
My amazing weather luck continues as it never rained on me. 39 days and counting.
The most interesting story at the Rock Café came from Ron. Ron met Joan when she was a waitress at a drive-in restaurant down the road a ways. He spotted her and decided she was the one for him. He asked her to get married, and he says she said “not No but Hell No.” He stayed after her and let her know the proposal was open. He headed back to Houston where he lived. She was in Stroud, Oklahoma. She called him one day out of the blue and said she was ready. Ron drove straight to Stroud, put her in the car, and drove straight back to Houston. She learned her parents thought someone had killed her, so she called home to let them know she was okay. Ron and Joan got a marriage license and carried it around for the longest time. People asked them when they were going to get married, and they said they were going to get around to it. They were at a garage sale one day and learned there was a minister there. They asked him to marry them, and he did – right there in the garage in front of the garage sale customers.
Casey and Zach are young high school age boys. I told them I thought life in a small town was mighty good. They said the problem with small towns is that there’s not much to do. That seems to be the national anthem of teenagers in small towns we’ve visited.
I walked into the Rock Café with nothing but my beads and my camera. Five or ten minutes later, it was like I knew everyone in the place, and I was talking with all of them. That just wouldn’t happen in a big city. I hope Casey and Zach will appreciate that some day. If they stay in Stroud, they probably will.
Leroy gave me good directions to the Tulsa Fairfield Inn, and I pulled in about 9:45. The days are too long. I’ve got to correct this for the second half of the trip by traveling without hotel reservations so there isn’t always a deadline – a place we have to be each night.
There were two distinct messages today. It’s amazing what you can put together and be successful doing in America – especially in a small town. And we must do everything possible to minimize the chances of terrorism in our great country.