Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I'm not usually one to copy/paste other writers pieces here, but 3 years ago, during the Oklahoma Centennial celebration, Tulsa World staff writer Gene Curtis covered the Memorial Day history in Tulsa so well, I'll just let him say it again.  I will add some photos along the way………
by Gene Curtis                  May 28, 2007

The fighting in Europe had ended earlier that month but it was still raging in the Pacific when Tulsans paused for a day to remember their war dead in ceremonies similar to those in other cities and towns in Oklahoma and across the nation.

The main ceremony on that Memorial Day of 1945 was at Boulder Park, 18th Street and Boulder Avenue, where 51 white wooden crosses had been erected to represent the 622 Tulsa County soldiers, sailors and Marines who had been killed in action during World War II. That park now is known as Veterans Park.

There wasn't enough room to plant a cross for each of the dead, but the names of all 622 were displayed in the flower-covered small white memorial building erected by Post 577 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which was in charge of the program.

More than 1,200 people filled all the folding chairs that had been set up for the program that featured patriotic music by the American Legion band, the burial ceremony used by the VFW post at the graves of veterans, placing of wreaths and flowers at each cross and speeches by Mayor Olney Flynn and Army Lt. Col. Harry L.S. Halley, a judge who had served in both World War I and World War II. Hundreds more went to the event but left after putting flowers on the crosses.

Thousands had visited Oak lawn, the oldest cemetery, Rose Hill and Memorial cemeteries earlier on that May 30 to put flowers on the graves of relatives and friends. A special service was held at the Catholic cemetery.

It was a Wednesday, long before Congress changed the holiday to the last Monday of May with the National Holiday Act that took effect in 1971; long before Memorial Day became part of a three-day weekend marking the beginning of summer and a time to go to the lake. The biggest lake of substance was Grand, some 70 miles northeast of Tulsa.
Gasoline was still rationed -- most car owners got three gallons a week -- but many Tulsans used some of their fuel to take advantage of their middle-of-the-week day off to have picnics at Mohawk Park, to take dips in the Newblock Park swimming pool and to walk through the Woodward Park rose gardens that were blanketed in blooms.

Similar ceremonies were held on Memorial Days 1944 and other years before and after that date, but that 1945 ceremony was special because Germany had surrendered on May 7 and Allied forces were gaining the upper hand in the Pacific, where fighting continued until after the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan on Aug. 6 and 9. The Japanese officially surrendered on Sept. 2 although they had announced surrender plans earlier.

Memorial Day of 1919, called Decoration Day here, had a special significance. Units of the 36th Infantry Division made up of Oklahoma and Texas soldiers arrived in New York after service in Europe during World War I. Oklahoma Gov. J.B.A. Robertson and a large group of Tulsans were on hand to greet the returning doughboys.

Many gathered at Fourth and Main streets and took a trolley to Oaklawn cemetery at 11th Street and Peoria Avenue for a ceremony. Another ceremony was held at Owen Park.

Memorial Day ceremonies had been a tradition in Tulsa. In the 1930s they typically began at Memorial Hill, Cincinnati Avenue and Easton Street, where a flagpole had been erected in a park, and moved later to Oaklawn Cemetery. The Memorial Hill ceremonies were handled by the Daughters of the American Revolution and the cemetery rites were handled by the VFW, the American Legion and the United Spanish War Veterans.

Fifteen Civil War veterans attended the 1929 Memorial Day ceremonies but their ranks had thinned to fewer than 10 the next year and to two by 1933. That was the last year they were mentioned in news reports about the events.

Memorial Day was first observed May 30, 1868, after Gen. John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, proclaimed it as a time to honor Union and Confederate soldiers by placing flowers on their graves in Arlington Cemetery. New York recognized the holiday in 1873 and by 1890 all northern states had recognized it.

Southern states honored their war dead on a different date until after World War I, when the event was changed to honor all war dead, not just those who died in the Civil War. Several southern states still honor Confederate dead on a different date.

The holiday was called Decoration Day until about 1882, when Memorial Day was first used but the two names were used interchangeably for many years and the Decoration Day term was favored by many. Memorial Day became the official name by federal law in 1967, although Decoration Day continued in use then and today. In many places in the South, Decoration Day is observed on the Sunday before Memorial Day. It also became common to decorate the graves of all relatives, not just veterans.

Beginning in 1922, veterans' organizations sold paper poppies, symbolizing the flowers that grew in Flanders Field during World War I, for Americans to wear on Memorial Day; the poppies later were made by disabled veterans and worn to commemorate veterans' sacrifice.

For decades, the event almost always included parades and decorating of graves, but most Americans have forgotten the meaning and traditions of Memorial Day -- it's now just a holiday.

The VFW said in a 2002 Memorial Day message: "Changing the date merely to create three-day weekends has undermined the very meaning of the day. No doubt, this has contributed greatly to the general public's nonchalant observance of Memorial Day."

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tulsa Pizza

American's began their love affair with pizza after WWII when allied troops occupying Italy discovered the pizzeria and brought their appreciation back home. It was in 1958 that Pizza Hut was born, not too far from Tulsa, in Wichita Kansas.  In 1960 entrepreneurs Ramon King joined with Doug Jones and Tom Wilson to build and open the first of several Shotgun Sam's Pizza Parlor locations here.  18th and Sheridan was the location of the first one:

I know  there was one on 51st between Yale and Harvard.  And this one mentioned in the ad: 2600 Range Line.  Were there more?

           (Remember- I'm Shotgun Sam, the Pizza Man and my horse's name is Alice)

My mother was a huge fan of Lea's Pizza.  Even though we lived "all the way out" at 51st and Sheridan, she would drive to the Lea's on Peoria and 43rd and bring it home.  

By the time Lea's closed, we had a Kens' pizza nearby where Rib Crib is now located.
Although Shotgun Sam's didn't become a franchise licensor, it did produce the next best thing: someone who became hugely successful in the pizza/restaurant franchising business:  Ken Selby.  Ken worked at Shotgun Sam's before going out on his own.  What started out as The Pizza Parlor in 1961 soon became Ken's Pizza, and later Mazzio's.  There are around 200 of them, half of which are franchised.

In the 1970's store-bought pizza mixes were popular.  Besides Chef Boyardee's brand our favorite was Appian Way.  We would gather with friends, make a wonderful Appian way pizza and watch Mazeppa some Saturday nights.   Good times.

Another well-loved pizza place was My Pi. 

It was the first place I ever had deep dish pizza and I LOVED theirs.  I also loved their great Bose sound system in there.  In 1977 the Tulsa world ran an article on My Pi which included recipes for their garlic bread and green salad.  My Mom must have read this because it was how she always made garlic bread at home, using Pepperidge Farm bread.

1 loaf French bread (such as Pepperidge Farm brand in the bread aisle; not frozen)
1/4 pound butter, softened
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
10 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1. Whip butter with whisk until light and creamy. Blend in minced garlic and grated cheese.
2. Cut bread diagonally into thick slices. Do not cut through, leaving slices attached to crust. Fill space between slices with butter and cheese mixture. Wrap in foil and heat through, 10 to 15 minutes in a 500-degree oven.

Romaine, iceberg and red-leaf lettuce
1/2 hard-boiled egg
3 or 4 thin slices red onion
1 anchovy, chopped
Italian dressing
1. Tear lettuce leaves in bite-size pieces, and combine.
2. Grate egg.
3. Place anchovy and onion slices over top of lettuce, and sprinkle with croutons and egg. Serve with Italian dressing.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tulsa's Forgotten Airports

Tulsa used to have a few little airports scattered about in the early aviation days. In fact, we still have Harvey Young and R.L. Jones airports in addition to our large, international airport. Below are 2 of the air fields that are now gone (plus one you may or may not know about):

Robert Garland opened his own airport on the northeast corner of 51st and Sheridan back in 1929. The field later became Garland-Clevenger Airport.

Garland and his School of Aeronautics merged with McIntyre Airport Company in 1931. The little airport was eventually renamed...

COMMERCIAL AIRPORT (#1) as noted on this 1934 Airway Map:

It is unclear how long this air field was in operation with this name, but I have found reference to it as far back as 1911. After 1941 there was no mention of this airport and the Commercial Airport was shown as being in it's new location a few miles to the southwest. Sometime between 1941-1945 this airport was reopened and called the


Described as an auxiliary airfield, it was used as a practice field for Spartan Aeronautics during World War II. However, a year later it was renamed again.


Walter E. Brown had lived in Tulsa since 1916. He took his first solo flight in 1922 and loved flying. After serving as a bank president and an oil executive, he acquired the Mayo airfield and facilities in 1946, owning it's lease until 1949.

He constructed several hangers on the 160 acre airport and operated Browns Flying Service. After he retired, it was still called Brown Airport.

 In 1962 the field was said to offer fuel, major repairs, charter flights and was listed as the Tulsa Airport Company. *One pilot recalled there being a drive-in theater across the street that served as a marker of sorts to the pilots.  The entire area was sold and by 1964 was turned into the Park Plaza housing addition.


The 1937 Airport Directory lists Tulsa Commercial Airport as being 5.5 southeast of Tulsa, having a 2,640 sod landing area with "Commercial Airport" and "Tulsa" painted on the roof. This airfield also handled Army flight operations during the war at which time it gained 2 paved runways. In a 1950 aerial photo you can see the four hangars on the south side of the field. 

Sometime between 1950-54 the field was renamed Cherokee Airpark and by 1954 it was no longer there.  *You can see the "open air theater" marked on this map:

The housing addition, Holliday Hills, was soon constructed as well as a shopping center by the same name. However, the main north/south runway was kept as a street (Urbana) and used to have some airport markings on the concrete. 

The crosswind runway (58th Place) was also largely left intact with each end of it being modified and redirected into other streets.

Still here………

was built sometime between 1944-1945. Located off North Osage Drive and East 36th Street North (close by the casino) various sources describe the airport as having a 2,500' unpaved runway in 1949 and in 1950 as having 4 runways. 

By 1955 it was described as being 2,100'. During this time there were drag races going on at Tulsa North which were said to have been responsible for tearing up the asphalt on one end of it.  In 1962 the operator of the airport was listed as A.E. Kobel with the name changed to Downtown Airpark, by which it is still known. 

Allied Helicopter Service formed a flight school here in 1966. It was owned by Tulsa Technology Center until 2006 when it was sold to an investor group. In an ironic and historic turn, the 100 acre property- which was within the original allotment of Osage Chief Peter Bigheart- was purchased by The Osage Nation in 2008.

Sources: Paul Freeman; Tulsa World; Maps from

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1906 Film

Saw this over on Mike Ransom's website and had to share.  Has nothing to do with Tulsa but everything to do with HISTORY.  

This was the first 35 mm film, shot in San Francisco 4 days before the Great California Earthquake of April 18, 1906.  The camera was mounted on the front of a cable car as it went down Market Street.  The film was shipped by train to New York City for processing and was then "lost" for many years.  

I am amazed at so much here: the 6 different modes of transportation happening all at once, the number of automobiles, the lack of rules causing the high risk of danger (!?).   As Mike asks: I wonder how many of these people would be gone by the next week.....?  Personally, I did not like the music that accompanies this; electronic music- French, English or whatever- just doesn't fit, so I muted it.  You can go full screen if you want but the picture is a little grainy if you do.

UPDATE:  I just added (below this video) one that was made after the earthquake.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tulsa Pioneer: Carl C. Magee

Carl C. Magee was born in January of 1873.  Educated in Iowa schools, he received two masters degrees and became a teacher then school superintendent.  While working in these positions he studied law and began a private practice in 1901.  
Magee came to Tulsa in 1903 and was a very prominent lawyer.  As did many, he became involved the oil business and achieved the position of Vice President of the Black Hawk Petroleum Company.
Magee was said to be a "spectacular person", active in Tulsa's civic affairs until 1919 when his wife's health forced the family to move to New Mexico.  Up until then, he accomplished quite a bit.  He was a member of the board of education during its early years and saw the school system grow from 7 teachers to 120  instructors.  He was a director of the chamber of commerce for 9 years.  The first natural gas fire in Tulsa was lit in Magee's office and he owned the first automobile brought to Tulsa.  He, Ed Reynolds, Charlie Brown and 3 others built the first electric light plant in the city (1905).

Before he left Tulsa, Magee left his mark; a monument you might say.  He laid out plans and developed Carlton Place Addition.  The original addition enveloped 3 blocks (seen shadowed)

There were 2 entrances to the addition from the north, with red brick entry gates and arches constructed of  wrought iron, each one spelling out Carlton Place.  

There is an "M" and "09" carved into stone set in the pillars of the archway.  "M" for Magee and "09" for the year it was platted.  
The entrance today:

The sidewalk archway:

This was, at the time, the most fashionable place in town.  He didn't include arches at the other end, believing that nobody would want to go "clear out south in the country" to enter the addition.  

The city tried on several occasions over the years to remove the arches, claiming they obstructed vision at the intersections, causing accidents. But the neighbors howled in disagreement and the arches remained.  The lettering, however, was taken down in 1953 when they began rusting and falling off.

It isn't known for sure when one set of arches were removed, but probably around the time the east end of the addition was demolished, leaving one set of arches over Carson at Fourteenth and reducing the addition to 1 1/2 blocks.  All that remains of the arch itself is where it was attached to these 101 year old pillars:

Carl Magee had more to accomplish after he left Tulsa.  A lot more.  After settling in Albuquerque, Magee chose journalism as his next passion.  He bought the Albuquerque Journal from Albert Fall who later became secretary of the interior.  Magee did not agree with Fall's political activities and said so in his paper.  He became a thorn in the side of New Mexico political bosses who tried numerous times to drive him out.  He did end up losing his newspaper, but not before he uncovered what came to be known as The Teapot Dome scandal.  He was called to testify in Washington and his testimony helped  convict Fall who was sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined $100,000 for accepting bribes.  

Carl returned to Oklahoma City in 1927 where, in between jobs as a newspaper editor, he invented something that changed the world.  He invented the parking meter.

School teacher, lawyer, editor, inventor, business man and simultaneously, civic worker, Shriner and prominent Methodist layman - Magee crowded the experiences of several life-times into his 73 years, passing away in February 1946.  He and his family are buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in Tulsa.

Sources:  Tulsa Preservation Commission; The Tulsa Tribune; RootsWeb

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Little More Brookside

I realize I have covered Brookside twice already in this blog, however when I am researching and discover more information or photos, I have to share.  
Last year a fellow blogger and Tulsa history buff inquired as to whether or not I could locate a photo of  the original S&J Oyster Bar, located at 33rd and Peoria, now occupied by Leon's.  It was a challenge which proved to be more difficult than I thought,  but one that a fellow blogger helped out with.  In my research of this area I discovered that the original occupant of this building was the Town & Country Restaurant.  I stumbled upon this photo of it last week:  

Also, in that same file was the following 1939 auction notice that I thought was interesting as well:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

History Mystery

I've been working on a little mystery and now I need your help! 

I was contacted by a resident of the Harvard Terrace Apartments (around 25th and Harvard)  who was wanting to know what the mysterious parking lot, hidden behind the apartments, was for.  She sent along this satellite image:
Here is a zoomed-in picture of it:

My first inclination was to drive by this site and see it for myself.  As I drove through the streets of these wonderful, quaint apartments I couldn't see much of anything.  Hidden indeed.  It wasn't until I drove back to the resident parking area of the west apartments that I could make out this strange lot covered in cement.  Barely.  Although I was there on a bright, sunny afternoon I didn't feel right about parking and getting out of my car to investigate.  I didn't want to scare any residents living there by having a stranger in their parking area get out (with a camera no less).  So, I drove around to 25th Street and came upon an entrance that was gated shut. Without a doubt, it leads back to this lot, but I was not going to leave my car and traipse back there alone.  Again: just didn't feel right.  I drove in a semi-circle around the neighborhood and, while I'm sure those whose house backs up to this lot can see it, there is no other view of it anywhere else. 

The A marks the lot.  You can see the road I was talking about, that leads to it from 25th.  This was also the exact line where railroad tracks used to be.  It used to veer off of where they are now, in the middle of the expressway, and head north right on that route.  

The first resource I used was the Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps that are available on the Library's website (you just need to have your card number to use it).  

It took me quite a while to figure out the maps and find what I was looking for (but this is the stuff I love doing).  The area I wanted was on 2 maps- 414 and 415 so I spliced what I wanted together to get this:

And, while the apartments and streets (and RR) are on here, there is nothing on the other side of the RR where the lot is.  And I could find no other maps that continued on from that direction.  If someone does know of one, please let me know.

My next stop was the downtown library to my favorite place: the 4th Floor Resource/Research area.  The librarian on duty was as intrigued as I was to try and figure this one out.  First she pulled up the information from the County Assessor's office and we learned who owns the property.  It also shows that this has been a parking lot since 1988.  And that's about it, other than tax information.  OK so at least I now know who owns it.  Using some other maps that she pulled from storage we learned that an oil well was once dug on this property (a long time ago).  I did a little digging around on Doctors Hospital, using their vertical file and confirmed what someone had suggested (but wasn't sure)- that this whole area used to be coal mines.   Newspaper articles tell about the mines when construction began on the hospital.  Interesting stuff! but not the answer I am looking for.

I pulled up the zoning information from INCOG's website.  No help.

The next day I visited the Land Records Dept. in the County Clerk's Office.  They had no useable information either.  Attempts have been made to call the owner, but no answer.

So now I am turning to you.  Do you know what this cemented lot was for?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Old Hardware Stores

Hardware.  Today that word is related to computers more than it's original connotation which was implements and tools.  The grandfather of tools is the hammer.  It's partner is the nail which was invented around the 8th century B.C. and was preceded by the peg.  Nails used to be so rare and valuable that early settlers in the western U.S.  reportedly burned down their homes before moving to recover the nails.  With every nail being hand forged back then, it is no surprise.

Also no surprise is that stores carrying nails, hammers, lanterns and saws were the first one's to set up in a new town, carrying a variety of other goods as well.  T.J. Archer opened one of Tulsa's first as did the Lynch Brothers and H.O. McClure.  

Eventually these stores evolved into ones that carried just about any and everything.  Chances are that at one time or another everyone will find themselves at a hardware store in their lifetime.  Of course, we now relate the term "hardware store" to two big chain stores out there.  But, as with grocery stores, back in the day there was at least one in every neighborhood. Here are a few from Tulsa's past:

Shepherd Furniture & Hardware

Alhambra Appliances and Hardware - 15th and Peoria  1959

Clark Darland  owned at least 2 stores; one downtown on Cincinnati and the other in Utica Square

Gates Hardware was on the NE corner of Elgin and Brady in the 1930s 

During WWII hardware stores sold glue by the pound, resembling bricks of taffy.  A furniture store would melt it and use it for making furniture.  And paper sacks were not available during that time, so newspaper was used to wrap up a dozen bolts.   Nails, nuts, bolts and screws were sold by the pound.

And it was the only place you could have a key made

Swinney's Hardware in Whittier Square, was a place to go for hard-to-find items.  They kept their niche by carrying items such as plumbing parts for older fixtures, pumice stone polishing powder, tung oil, window glaze as well as bat houses and parts for old Zink furnaces.  The store opened near Admiral and Lewis in 1934 as a used furniture store.  Then, in 1941 they switched to selling hardware and took over Blakely Hardware at 14 N Lewis.  They moved twice after that, always within the same neighborhood with their last location being  32 S. Lewis where they stayed for 67 years until 2008, when they closed.

Best Hardware is still around in Brookside! 

"Every hardware store is a repository of literally centuries of knowledge and experience; that the tools and products they sell represent some of the most artfully--and practically--engineered items in existence."    - The History Channel