Monday, June 29, 2009

Part 2 More Early Tulsa Eateries

I love this picture. This is actually 2 buildings. On the left is one of Tulsa’s first movie theatres, the Lyric which was located at 1st and Main. On the left side, downstairs, is the Tulsa Candy Company where peanut brittle was made and sold to movie goers. On the right is Tulsa Banking Company upstairs (see the woman in the window?) and downstairs is the Oaks CafĂ© where one could purchase a chicken dinner for 25 cents. This is around 1914:

Here is another good one. In this photo you can purchase a chicken dinner for 5 cents. I love so many things in this picture. The expression on the 2 women’s faces is great. Is the one on the left perturbed at the dog being in the picture? The one holding the dog is really hamming it up! Then, there’s the gentleman who appears to be on the phone in the back:

Interior views of diners from the 1920s and 30’s:

Pig Stands came about when a Texas businessman and entrepreneur named Jesse G. Kirby had a vision: Take a basic and popular food item, such as a barbecue pork sandwich, combine it with a soft drink such as Coke or a Schlitz beer, and offer them both in a package deal that catered to the new automobile. Food for people on the go! He called it The Pig Stand, which would become the first drive-in restaurant. It was an overnight success and took off across the nation, destined to change the food industry in the United States. By 1934 more than 120 Pig Stands were in operation in nine states. Fast food was born. The term "Pig Stand" was used by many who were not affiliated with Mr. Kirby's business. Franks Pig Stand in Tulsa was located 1440 S Boston:

A few years later, it was just Franks Restaurant. "Pig Stand" became a registered trademark for franchises:

Here is a menu from another Pig Stand located on 11th Street

The Reeder family, some of Tulsa’s pioneers, operated various businesses, one being the Reeder Hotel which was located at 117 S Boston:A few years before Urban Renewal took down this area, you can see the Reeder Hotel, and it’s coffee shop sign:Menu from Reeder Coffee Shop:

photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Part 1 Early Tulsa Cafes 1898-1913

I love putting educational outreach programs together for the Tulsa Historical Society, whether writing them myself or plugging photos in for another writer. Such was the case when another wonderful volunteer wrote a great presentation about early Tulsa food. In my photo search, I came across lots and lots of early Tulsa eating spots. More than she would ever be able to use. So, I thought I’d share them here. I’ll call this Part 1 and begin with some of the earliest.
It doesn't get much earlier than this, photo-wise. This is L.R. Earlewyne's White Front Restaurant "centrally located near the depot. Besides furnishing square meals, three times a day, he keeps a full line of candies, fruits and confectioneries. His brand of cigars are the very best and those who enjoy a fine Havana, should not pass him by."

Here is a page from Woods Souvenir Directory listing the restaurants around Tulsa in 1909:Fuller's Cafe started out in a small building, so they decided to build a new, better cafe in 1909. Here it is under construction:

And finished:
And the interior: Don't know the name of this one but it's fun to look at: As is my favorite- Fletcher's East End Cafe (note the spelling of waffles): These "quick lunch" cafes were all over town:

The Criterion was located at 106 E 3rd Street and had "the best and finest of everything at sensible prices"

More to come!

photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Suburban Sprawl

When Tulsa WWII veterans returned from Europe and the Pacific they found great housing from which to choose from here. $300 down would get them into a cute $7,000 bungalow. These cookie-cutter homes directed at the GI market became synonymous with Brookside.
(click on photos to enlarge)

Shopping in Brookside was a casual alternative to downtown shopping.Merchants introduced Shorts Day in 1951 and held Miss Brookside contests as well.

Family-owned Pennington’s Drive In opened in 1951. Located at 4235 S. Peoria they were known for their fried shrimp and blackbottom pie. It was a hang-out for many high school students, including myself. This is the way I remember it in the 1970’s:There was the Brookside Market located at 3620 S. Peoria that had fancy food and home delivery: And the Brookside Coliseum catered to the roller-skating mania that lasted until 1963:Vernon Mudd was a refinery worker-turned builder and became the first major developer of South Tulsa. He built Bellaire Village in the early 1950s and was told it was “too far out in the country” (at 51st and Peoria) to succeed:Shopping centers were the newest rage in the 1950’s. Here is a view from the top of St. Johns Hospital in 1929, looking down on what would later become ...... Utica Square in 1952:

Also opening at this time was Ranch Acres
The Mayo Meadow Shopping Center had a “contemporary California motif” layout:I spent the first 5 years of my life a few blocks over from Mayo Meadow (don't think our house is quite in this picture) and remember being allowed to ride my bike over to the shopping center and all around without causing my mother any duress. Then my dad, who was involved in the real estate world, decided it was time to head South and had a home built by Vernon Mudd, just outside of the city limits at 51st between Sheridan and Memorial. Sungate was a huge field, as I recall. A field with roads and sidewalks. It was 1964 and my parents’ house was the 3rd one on the block. Walking to the brand new school, Salk Elementary, was sort of an adventure down these sidewalks in fields. We saw lots of jackrabbits and Meadowlarks. Here is 51st and Memorial, looking east, in 1964. You can see Memorial Park Cemetery on the right:
Back in 1956 Mr. Mudd purchased 100 acres of farmland from a Tulsa pioneer named Lou North, who was then 90 at that time. The farmland, located at what is now around 51st and Harvard, would become Woodland Acres. Mr. North reminisced once that when he had homesteaded this property in 1904, the city was a ½ day buggy ride, one way. My how we’ve grown.

(photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ahrens Brewing Company

Brothers Walter and George Ahrens owned and operated Southern Mill and Manufacturing Company, a successful mill which they founded in 1919, located at 515-525 S. Troost. The company produced prefabricated housing as their primary business.
The brothers were looking for other business in an attempt to diversify and began making plans for a local brewery when legal beer returned in 1934.* It would be another 4 years until their goal was met. They wanted to have the most modern, small facility and brew the best beer ever tasted. Tulsans loved their beer!
*All beer produced was limited to 3.2% alcohol which was considered nonintoxicating until 1955.

The brothers had many things going for them; unused space in their millworks, a good supply of local labor and an excellent location next to the train tracks. They also touted using the “superior water from the Spavinaw reservoir”. They hired a man who knew the brewing industry and was a perfect choice for brew master of Tulsa’s new Ahrens Brewery, Oskar Scholz.

When construction was complete the first 7,000 gallon batch of Ranger Beer started cooking in May 1938. The finest ingredients were used: imported pilsen hops from Czechoslovakia, domestic hops from Oregon and barley malt from Europe. The beer was ready in August 1938 and so were Tulsans! The week of August 15 was declared “Ranger Beer Week”.

The brewery employed 30 people on 2 production shifts. Beer was delivered in brown Dodge trucks, painted to look like a chuck wagon. Advertisers came up with the slogan, “With the Zest of the West”.

Ahrens Brewing Company even had the Tulsa Rangers, their own baseball team and sponsored their own support group, the Rangerettes. Visitors were invited to stop by and tour the facility and sample products in the tap room, which boasted an elaborate wood bar built by the employees of the millworks.

So what happened to Ahrens Brewing Company? All that is known for certain is that they were forced into bankruptcy and the brewery closed its doors on February 16, 1940, just two years after opening. Did they spend too much money building the facility? Were the ingredients too expensive? One story was that "unfair" business practices from the breweries in OKC were to blame. CPA Ross T. Warner was the court-appointed trustee.
Part of his job was to liquidate the assets and dispose of the 2,250 barrels of beer (valued at $30,000). Getting the beer out of the storage tanks and into the hands of customers was cost prohibitive, so it was dumped down the sewer drain! On March 3, 1940 the beer was drained via a long line of hose with city water department employees on hand to make sure the sewer didn’t get clogged.
Memorabilia is rare. What happened to those bottles of Ranger, Ranger Special Brew and Ranger Winter Brew beer? Another unanswered question of the Ahrens Brewing Company.

Sources: Article by Brad Anthamatten 1996 American Breweriana Journal, Tulsa World
Photos: courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Tulsa Pioneer: R.T. Daniel

R.T. Daniel was one of Tulsa’s early citizens that helped the city grow in many ways.
Mr. Daniel came to Tulsa already a wealthy man from land development in his home town of Miami, Florida. He did something that I find quite remarkable: he purchased a building from the 1904 Worlds Fair, had it disassembled, brought to Tulsa piece by piece via train, and reassembled at 3rd and Boston. No easy feat; this was made of steel and took several years to complete.
The Daniel Building can be seen in this photo on the left side; this is the intersection of 3rd and Boston around 1909.
At some time, Mr. Daniel decided to add on to the structure, making it Tulsa’s first “high rise” building at 10 stories tall by 1911.
Mr. Daniel also built the famous Hotel Tulsa which opened in 1912 down the street at 3rd and Cincinnati.
In its lobby, million dollar deals were made right and left during the oil boom days. Oilman Josh Cosden once casually wrote a check for $12 million at a table in the lobby. Harry Sinclair ran a suite of offices on the 5th floor and everyone who was anyone in oil passed through the lobby making deals.
Here is the Topaz Ballroom in the Hotel Tulsa:
Another contribution by Mr. Daniel was a library. R.T. owned some land around 2nd Street and Atlanta and the city needed a library. He sold the land and proceeds from the sale were used to build this new library at 1st and Lewis on land he donated. Notice the cupola on top:
The library walls began to crumble and it was torn down in 1996 and replaced with the new Kendall-Whittier Library. The cupola was donated to the Tulsa Historical Society and rests out in the Vintage Gardens there:

There are a lot of other nifty historical artifacts in the Vintage Gardens. Go by sometime, when the weather is nice, and stroll through. Here is a link to what there is to see:
(some photos courtesy of Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society)