Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bishop's Restaurant

Back in the days when downtown Tulsa was The (only) Place To Be, there were plenty of cafes and diners for lunch and breakfast but not so many restaurants, especially one's that were open 24 hours.  And really there was only one place to go, to be seen and to see others.  I am talking about Bishop's Restaurant of course.  I posted this postcard on the THS Facebook page the other day, which was Bishop's Driv-Inn (not to be confused with the restaurant).  

Although many remembered this pretty, neon spot that was located on 10th and Boston, the memories and comments always drift back to the other Bishops.  THE Bishops that was located at 510 S. Main, in the hub of the city.  I thought I would share some of those memories, along with a little bit of history.

I couldn't find out much information on W.W Bishop other than he opened the first Bishop's in 1913 and it was located at 15 E Third St.  It was a counter-only cafe/diner back then.  That could very well be him on the far right, but I cannot verify that.

Sometime in the early 1920's he upgraded the place and enlarged it.  This ad was in a 1927 booklet.  

This photo, taken around the same time, shows the new signage in front.

WW. Bishop became partners with J.H. Powers and together they opened a bigger, better full-scale restaurant in a building on Main Street and 5th.  The year was 1930.  Customers in that era included the likes of William G. Skelly, Josh Cosden, Harry Sinclair and J.Paul Getty.  They also opened a Bishop's  in Oklahoma City.

Moving along into the next decade, social activities swirled around Bishops; first dates, anniversaries, special occasions or lunch -Bishop's catered to them all.  Everyone loved the infamous Brown Derby which came with french fries or onion rings, grilled onions and hot rolls so light they floated away- all for .65 cents in 1948.  A steak platter for two was featured for $1.85.  What better place to go before or after a movie.

A menu and some other memorabilia found at online auctions:

Counter seating or a booth?  The U-shaped counter was huge with red and chrome swivel chairs.  The floor was black and white checked. You were always served well by one of the many waitresses employed there. 
Wearing a starched cotton uniform, a ruffled apron, small cap and a handkerchief in a little breast pocket, they were always neat as a pin, some having been there many years.  For three decades there was no place equal to Bishops.  

When the restaurant went to 24-hour service, more than 70 waitresses were employed.  New signage out front included the famous Hereford cow's head when a remodel was done in the late 1940's.  

A back room now included a "buffeteria" offering.  The upstairs of the building was used as a storage area with cowboy and Indian artifacts.  Later it was rented out to a competitor, Mike's Restaurant, which in 1951 was the birth place of the Spotlight Club.

Memories shared by Tulsans were mostly about the food- from "best cheeseburgers and fries" to the "best waffles in the world" served on heavy white china that had a green rim on it.  The house salad dressing, rum cake and chicken pot pie were other favorites. And hash browns like no other. 
My neighbor, a Central grad, fondly remembers going there "with the gang" late one night after a school dance.  She said they all ended up dancing outside in the street.
Another memory was of a sign at the front register that read, "We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone" which at that time was a reference towards segregation and the unwelcomeness of the black population to eat there.  The other Bishop's Restaurant in Oklahoma City was eventually picketed by civil rights activists in 1963 who staged a sit-in. 

On Saturday, February 19, 1966 Bishop's Restaurant closed it's doors for good.  Plans were to tear down the building and put in one of the infamous parking lots.  The Saturday morning regulars along with two favorite waitresses drank a champagne toast to the end of a Tulsa institution.

Here are some recipes that have been passed along from Bishops:

1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. Mustard

Mix ingredients, adding broth last to give mixture the consistency of soupy meatloaf. Using 1 cup of the mixture for each portion, make thick patties and brown them in oil. Set aside.

1 can beef gravy
1 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. A1 Sauce
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire
1/2 cup catsup
1 Tbsp. Margarine

Boil ingredients together for 2 minutes. Drain the meat patties and put in a baking dish. Cover with Sauce Diablo. Bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees; longer if desired.

1 pint garlic-flavored salad oil 
1/2 cup honey 
1 tablespoon salt (or to taste) 
1/2 cup red wine vinegar 
2 tablespoons lemon juice 

Put honey and salt in electric blender and blend until creamy. 
Add vinegar and lemon juice. On slow speed add salad oil very slowly. 
Blend until thick. (The secret is slow blending.) 
Garlic-flavored oil: put 3 cloves garlic in a pint of salad 
oil and let it stand overnight. 

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts 
1 cup butter
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/2 C dark rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch 
tube pan or a 12-cup Bundt pan. Chop nuts and sprinkle evenly 
over the bottom of the pan. 

Cream 1 cup of the butter and 2 cups of the white sugar together. 
Add eggs one at a time mixing well after each one.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and 
add alternately with the buttermilk to the egg mixture.
Stir in the vanilla and rum. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake at 350 for 1 hour. While cake is baking, prepare glaze.

1 C butter
1/4 cup water 
1 cup sugar 
1/2 cup dark rum 

Melt butter in a saucepan; add water and sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. 
Allow to cool and stir in rum. 
Remove cake from oven, poke holes in it with a fork and pour all of the Rum Butter glaze over cake while still warm. Leave cake in pan for 2 hours before turning over onto serving dish.  
Top with whipped cream, if desired. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Doctor's Hospital

The medical profession was changing drastically by the late 1950's.  The role of Family Doctor was becoming outdated, replaced with specialized medicine.  This meant that many times, the family physician was not allowed admitting privileges to hospitals and had to turn their patients over to "specialists".  In a bold and courageous move, 19 Tulsa doctors took on the challenge to build a new non-profit hospital in the 1960's.  These family physicians wanted their own hospital and would use only private money to build it. 
At one time, all of Tulsa's physicians were located downtown in basically one building - that being the Medical Arts Building which sat on the southwest corner of 6th and Boulder.  

When these young doctors began searching for a place to build their hospital, they had to go way, way out to "the edge of civilization" to find their land, located at 24th and Harvard.  They purchased 10 acres of suburban tract land for $180,000 from the Batsell brothers.  This was the highest price recorded at the time for that amount of land.  The Batsell's had inherited this land from their father, F.N. Batsell who died in an automobile accident in the 1950's.  Mr. Batsell was the president of the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Tulsa.  He had purchased this land originally to build a bottling plant but the zoning was denied.  He was considering building a shopping center there at the time of his death.

When the doctors purchased the land, there were just a smattering of houses in Mayo Meadow neighborhood and virtually no businesses east of there.   It took them some time to find a bank that would loan them the money; in fact, they had to go out of Tulsa to do it.  When construction began the crews were faced with building on land that was once a coal mine.  It meant digging very deep.

The hospital eventually opened in August of 1966 with 100 beds and was designed with the comfort and well-being of the patients in mind.  There was a 24-hour public restaurant and color televisions in every room. The hospital was a financial success.  It was expanded twice, a chapel and conference center were added as well as a six-story professional building for about 30 doctors.  Thanks to doctors like this founding group, Family Medicine became a recognized specialty.  

Tulsa's Doctor's Hospital was the first to carry the emblem of the American Academy of Family Physicians.  And the first hospital west of the Mississippi to be built completely with private funds.
Doctor's Hospital was sold on September 29, 1983.  With the proceeds of the sale, the founding physicians established a non-profit group called the Founders of Doctors Hospital, Inc. which supports the charitable activities these physicians believed in.  The last living founder, Dr. Joe Salamy, passed away last August at the age of 91.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Further Investigation.....

A Tulsa Historical Society Facebook follower read about the Harvard Apartments parking lot mystery and went to check it out yesterday.  Here is her report:
February 12

A couple of friends and I went out there today, actually, and had a look around. There's still lots of snow but you can tell where things are by anomalies in the snow. While we were traipsing around, one of the people who lives in one of the houses that can see the parking lot from their backyard came and talked to us for a little while. She said it was definitely old overflow parking for Doctor's Hospital (and was much more interested in the foxes that live back there). 

The interesting thing to me, though, is that we peeked into the drains that are still in place in the curbs and could two different levels; the water was running in the second level down, and the separation between the levels was evident by a sort of shelf of concrete that looked like it had been broken. I've looked in a lot of storm drains in the past few years due to a predilection for saving trapped ducklings and never seen two different levels like that before. Plus, it looked like the "shelf" had exposed rebar, like it had broken off. My friends and I wondered if the lower level could be an old coal mine shaft, but it would be nearly impossible to tell without going down there when it's dry, and even then would be way too dangerous. We could tell that the water was running parallel to the street leading up to the parking lot. However, the storm drain on the entrance street didn't have the second, lower level.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Memories From A Reader

I was contacted recently by Jim M. regarding the History Mystery post from last year- the one regarding the mysterious parking lot by the Harvard Apartments.  The mystery of this lot still remains, but Jim shares some insights and memories from growing up near this area which are, as always, great to share.  Enjoy (and thanks Jim).

I grew up in the neighborhood now called Florence Park South,
that is just West across Harvard from the area in question.  Back in the
late '60's, the paved parking lot East of the Harvard Terrace
Apartments was a mixture of woods and brush to the north 
with a grass field to the south.
  A spur off of the MKT line ran on the east side of the covered
parking for the apartments and terminated on the Tulsa State Fairgrounds.
The railroad tracks must have already been in place when the 
neighborhood was constructed as Marion, Oswego, and Oswego Place
follow the railroad alignment. Evidence of the tracks is still present
at the 23rd, 24th Place and 25th St. crossings.  The spur must have been
put in place after the coal mines as the Coal Mine Map does not show
this spur.
  My older sister and her friends called the area Hobo Jungle, named for
the occasional transient they would see.  Kids on foot and bikes
find the fastest paths through a neighborhood, without regard to roads.
Back-routes out of that part of the neighborhood to Madalene School,
Lanier Elementary, Warehouse Market (formerly at 21st and Harvard),
Jones Drug (now Empire Optical), or to the Quik Trip originally located
at 25th and Harvard would have been through Hobo Jungle.
  By 1968, my buddies and I would ride our bikes over to the area.  Kids
had made bike trails throughout the field and trees.  There were lots
of bumps and jumps by the tracks.  In the areas close to the houses
were long flats.  Sting Ray style bikes did well.  My single speed paper-
route cruiser, a Penny's "Foremost", was a challenge.
  Realizing that our parents were reluctant to turn us loose in a place called
Hobo Jungle, we referred to the area as "The Bike Trails".  Evidence of
hobos remained in the form of camp fire ashes, empty canned food
tins, discarded clothing, empty bottles of cheap alcohol, and the occasional
curious magazine featuring rather scantily clad women.  I only have one
vague memory of actually seeing anyone camping there.
   By mid summer, the grasses would be 5 ft tall.  You could only see
the head of someone riding in the east part of the trail.  Countless
hours were spent holding timed bike competitions, building grass forts,
launching military campaigns, and just hanging out.  It was like being
in the country in the middle of town.  There was absolutely no adult 
supervision.  Needless to say, for all of the above reasons,  we loved
the place. 
  August would come, and the 5 ft grasses would dry out.  One of
the adults living in a house that backed up to the field would start a
not-unfounded worry about a brush fire and brush-hog the whole
place and and ruin it all.
  I have a very dim recollection of there being some sort of concrete
8'x8' platform in the center of the field.  I also seem to remember that it
was always full of broken glass from the discarded bottles (think 
"juvenile catharsis").  If this memory is true, then it would not be
unreasonable to suspect that the platform was a
somehow related to the former mine that was in the area. I have no
memory of ever seeing any kind of remaining evidence of manufacturing, 
abandoned equipment, buildings, loading docks, etc.  If you compare
the Coal Mine Map to a similarly scaled Google Map, you see that the
Lucinda Mine (13) has two entrances near the area in question. 
As the Coal Mine Map looks to be a "general location" map, it would be
risky to conclude that one of the entrances is under the parking lot
with any level of certainty, but not unlikely.
  I started driving in '73.  The MKT spur was still active for a decade or
so after that as I remember having to wait on the BA westbound 
once when they were moving railcars to/from the fairgrounds.
  Looking at the maps, I observed something else of interest regarding
the creek that flows north/south.  On the north end, the creek appears
to be in the same approximate location as the retention ponds located
between Pine/11th St/Yale/Sheridan.  The southern most end of the 
map shows the creek running through the same area as what is now
Mockingbird Lake.  It appears as if the city essentially buried the
creek and replaced it with storm sewers that eventually end up flowing
into Joe Creek.  There is a 6ft+ line that parallels the spur and I expect
that it runs to  Mockingbird Lake.   
  In conclusion, the area that was once a mid-city secluded "wildspace"
has been paved over and turned into a parking lot that no one uses.
Seems like there could have been a better plan....