Lost Restaurants of Tulsa – Release Info

Hello friends!

This is a short post to let everyone know that my book, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa, has a release date! It will be available for sale on December 3rd at a variety of local shops in the city (Magic City Books, Ida Red, etc.) as well as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Amazon is great for folks around the globe, but if you’re in town I highly encourage you shop locally! Easier to get a signed copy that way, too. ūüôā

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My launch event will be at the Tulsa Historical Society and Museum (2445 S Peoria Ave) on Saturday, December 8th at 2:00 PM. More events are being planned before Christmas – if you’re on Facebook, the best way to stay up-to-date is by following my page at:

http://www.facebook.com/LostTulsaRestaurants

I’ll post again when we’re closer to December and I have a few more events lined up. I was also on KTUL Channel 8 a few nights ago! You can see the segment here:

https://ktul.com/news/local/local-author-diving-into-the-history-of-tulsas-restaurants

I can’t wait to share the stories of many of Tulsa’s beloved lost restaurants with everyone. Thank you all for the support and encouragement over the last two years of research and writing!

Ghost Louisianne

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Sucker Day

For nearly 70 years, the town of Wetumka, OK has held an annual festival called Sucker Day. It’s an odd name for a celebration, and it has a colorful story. It inspired me to take a little trip to Hughes County and explore a little more of the Sooner State.

Here’s the story of Sucker Day: In 1950, a man came to town claiming to be a scout for a traveling circus. The smooth-talking salesman convinced the citizens that a great event was on their doorstep, so the city prepared. A local hotel bought new mattresses, hay was shipped in to feed the animals, the grocery store stocked up on food, and many local merchants bought advertising. The day the circus was supposed to arrive, however, the man (who had also been enjoying free room and board) disappeared. The circus was a sham. Instead of succumbing to anger or self-pity, the town decided to use many of the goods they’d brought in and use them for a street festival; they named it Sucker Day to poke fun at how they’d been hoodwinked. It was a big success and has been an annual Wetumka tradition ever since. The festival was featured once in Time Magazine and Paul Harvey even included it as part of, “The Rest of the Story.”

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When Samantha and I arrived at 10:30 AM, a good crowd was already milling about on Main Street. We joined them and checked out the booths that were set up on the sidewalks. A flatbed trailer had been set up in the middle as a makeshift stage. An old movie theater, which looked like it had been saved from a demilitarized zone, featured a welcoming banner over the marquee. The smells of barbecue and tamales were in the air. Kids were running around in capes and masks, as the 2018 theme revolved around superheroes. Everyone knew everyone else, it seemed.

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At 11:00, the parade started. It was a lovely small-town parade with much good cheer. Drivers and float-riders tossed candy to the crowd and the pint-sized caped crusaders scrambled around to scoop up as much as they could carry. The parade consisted of about what you’d expect: emergency services, school/church floats, some classic cars, and a few political candidates. It was refreshingly simple.

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Full parade photos at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/cloudlesslens/albums/72157696029106150

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Once the parade was over, Sam and I hit the road; we didn’t fancy staying around for the evening rodeo.¬† However, a straight drive home is never my idea of a good time. I had a few bridges marked on my map, so I ventured north. One of the bridges had been demolished and replaced with a boring concrete slab (I was¬†devastated) but the second one was still proudly spanning the North Canadian River…even if it was quite littered with graffiti.

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The bridge was a beauty; built in 1951 by the Henryetta Construction Company and featuring a K-Parker truss, a type of bridge design that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation was quite fond of for many years, and multiple pony truss spans. It was lovely to walk the road with only the sound of the river and my camera shutter.

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I was surprised to discover I’d picked up a hitchhiker: a small butterfly perched on my shoulder during my walk. Even though I shooed it away when I got back into the car, he circled around and snuck onto my hat as I got in. Sam helped me get him outdoors and we went on our way.

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Our next stop was the Honey Springs Battlefield, a site marking the largest Civil War battle in Indian Territory. Several walking trails feature interpretive signs that tell about the 1863 battle in which white men were in the minority: Native Americans made up most of the troops on both sides and the Union force included African-American troops. The Union-won battle was also instrumental in the later Confederate defeat at Fort Smith, AR and the Union capture of the entire Arkansas River Valley. I had no idea such an important battle took place in Oklahoma.

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The final stop of the day took us just south of Muskogee. A Muffler Man statue stands guard at an auto salvage yard on Oktaha Road. He’s a little worse for wear, but according to Muffler Man expert Joel Baker, this guy isn’t going anywhere for a long time…his legs are filled with concrete! A couple from Texas stopped at the junkyard to take photos during my short visit, too. These fiberglass giants do certainly attract attention. Speaking of: a new Route 66 business in Tulsa is raising funds to have their¬†own Muffler Man built. You can read more about that here.

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JDRF One Walk for Diabetes

Hello friends,

It’s rare that I use this platform for anything but travel reports, but I do want to raise awareness for a cause that I am raising money for, as it is very close to my heart. Please do not feel obligated by any means, but I want to get the word out as best I can.

On October 7th, I will be participating in JDRF One Walk¬ģ to raise money to work towards a cure for type 1 diabetes (T1D). I do this in honor of my father, Tony Clay Martin.

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In 1991, around the time of his 35th birthday, Dad received some unexpected news. After a standard checkup through his workplace, he (along with several of his peers) was told that he was a Type-1 diabetic.

If you’re not familiar, Type-1 diabetics stop producing insulin. Even with the most vigilant management, a significant portion of their day is spent with high or low blood-sugar levels which can lead to unpleasant side effects and long-term damage. Dad’s diagnosis explained his mood swings and some peculiar cravings he’d bee having for a while. Life changes had to be made immediately to manage this disease.

As a ten-year-old, I learned how to help. I learned how to manually mixed his insulin and help recognize symptoms of low blood sugar. Over the years, it just became a regular part of life…but it takes constant awareness. When Dad passed away suddenly in 2011, his kidneys were beginning to fail and other medical complications were slowly manifesting. Although we don’t know what caused his sudden death, his body had been severely taxed by diabetes. I know it was a contributing factor.

Dad and me (with my brother in the background) at EPCOT Center in the early 1990s

With T1D there are no days off and there is no cure…yet. I’m asking for your support for life-changing research that helps people with T1D live healthier and longer, until a cure is found.

I’ve set an ambitious goal of $1,991 to represent the year my father was diagnosed. I want T1D to be a disease that we talk about in the past tense & your support will help make that a reality. You can donate at the below link:

https://www2.jdrf.org/site/TR?fr_id=7499&pg=personal&px=12326631

Thank you for reading; I’ll see you on the road!

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CAF AirPower History Tour

I haven’t taken as many road trips in 2018 as I have in years past – there’s been so much going on around here it’s been tough to get away. Thankfully, though, I’ve been able to check a few things out here locally that I would’ve missed out on otherwise – one of which took place this weekend at the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. For the last few days, TASM has hosted the Commemorative Air Force and several historic aircraft from World War II.

FiFi

After paying my entry fee on Saturday and passing several displays of military memorabilia, I walked out onto the tarmac and into the shadow of “Fifi”, a B-29 Superfortress bomber. Until very recently it was the only airworthy B-29 left. It’s now titled the “World’s Most Famous” flying B-29. The other one, “Doc”, just received a green light for passengers last week. Both planes had been grounded and relegated to a life of target practice before they were purchased by private entities and fully restored.

BiPlane

The line to see the cockpit of the 75,000 lb. aircraft was quite long, so I looked around at some of the other vintage planes first. There was a blue-and-yellow Stearman biplane taking off as I arrived. At first, I was a little confused as to why an older aircraft like this was nestled among its more advanced brethren…but one of the folks explained to me that these planes were the primary training aircraft used during World War II. It sure looked like a fun ride with the open cockpit and all.

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Next up was T-6 Texan. This one was also a trainer aircraft and quite popular. Over a quarter of a century, these airplanes were involved in training hundreds of thousands of pilots in dozens of countries. They also saw service in battle into the early part of the Korean War.

Bolts

The C-45 Expeditor, named “Bucket of Bolts”, is a military transport plane. Over the course of this model’s service these craft were used for bombardier training, staff service, and photo reconnaissance. It was the most active airplane during my time on the tarmac; it didn’t stay still very long before another group of folks boarded it and went on a flight around the city.

P-51

 

The airplane that got the most attention (aside from Fifi herself) was a P-51 Mustang called “Gunfighter”.¬† This fighter plane is one of the most well-known aircraft of its era; they were used extensively due to their long range and effectiveness in combat. In fact, some were still in use as recently as the 1980s by other air forces around the world. Sadly, I never saw this one in flight during my visit.

B-29 Rumble

I finally got back to Fifi and joined the line for the tour; the shade under the port-side wing was quite welcome. It took about 45 minutes to get to the plane’s interior, but I didn’t mind the wait. Most of the other admirers were older and spent their time sharing knowledge or memories with their families. Many of them were veterans and some had served on similar aircraft personally. I would never associate my Dad with the military or a particular love of aircraft, but I sure did miss him as I heard fathers and sons bonding around me.

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We entered through the forward bomb bay doors, which had been outfitted with replica bombs to give a sense as to what the racks looked like during the war. It was awesome in the original sense of the word.

B-29 Cockpit

When I finally reached the cockpit, it was easy to see what I was later told: the configuration had been an inspiration for the creation of the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars. How amazing must that view be during flight! Alas, a ticket in the bombardier seat is $1,600.

Since Fifi’s flights for the day were over, I came back the next morning to get some video of the behemoth in action. It sure was a sight to see! Maybe one day I’ll get a chance to go up in something like this. Until then, it’s enough to be a witness to this history with my feet planted on the ground.

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DragonCon 2018

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been coming to the Con since 2010. A lot in my life has changed since that first trip to Atlanta…but one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the Con is a great big party. It’s filled with people of all kinds and all passions: if you have a little piece of pop culture that you absolutely love, you’ll find your family here. I’ve developed a wonderful Con Family that I seek out every year.

I arrived earlier than usual on Thursday, flying out of Tulsa at 6:00 AM. For the first time, I took Atlanta’s light rail (MARTA) into downtown. It couldn’t have been easier. In fact, it brought back the feelings of taking mass transit that I experienced while abroad. I sure wish Tulsa had a stronger transit system. All that being said, I was able to arrive at my hotel downtown and check-in well before noon. That gave me a lot of time to explore before the Con started on Friday!

Although, really, the Con doesn’t start on Friday anymore. It starts on Thursday. And, really, it’s getting busier on the Wednesday and even the Tuesday before. I couldn’t believe how packed everything was as I wandered the Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton lobbies. Thursday is no longer the ‘quiet day’ of DragonCon. I saw just as many A-Game costumes at the Marriott Atrium that day than any of the other days.

DragonCon is made up of many parts: celebrity panels, creative workshops, vendor booths, gaming halls, cosplayers, and a parade that lasts nearly two hours. In and around those happenings are nearly 100k fans of all ages celebrating every imaginable aspect of pop culture. Since there’s so much to do, everyone gets to make their own Con experience. My Con consists mostly of wandering the host hotels with my camera, taking photos of my favorite costumes. I am consistently amazed at the craftsmanship on display.¬†Although I didn’t dress up this year, I was able to share in the pride of many others that did.

There’s always a trend. This year, there were far fewer Harley Quinn’s and a lot of the Deadpools were of higher quality. A ton of costumes integrated portable speakers and music. And a lot of the photographers were taking video…I’ll admit I got annoyed more than once when someone was commanding cosplayers to do different things while they walked back and forth to get certain shots while I just stood and waited.

It was a long weekend in the best way. I spent time with friends I only see once a year, sharing meals and having great conversations.  In fact, that quality time meant I took fewer photos this year since 2010; no regrets! Below are a few of my favorite costumes from DragonCon 2018. My full photoset is available on Flickr here. To my friends in Atlanta: thank you. It was a magical weekend.

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SPACE FORCE! There were dozens of cosplayers around in various costumes dedicated to the current administration’s passion around a new branch of the military.

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A great re-imagining of Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

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Phenomenal detail on a costume inspired by Mad Max: Fury Road.

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I love it when cosplayers come toghether – like these Cinderella Step-Sisters and The Queen.

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This Bob Ross guy was actually painting!

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Best Judge Doom I’ve ever seen – great props including a squeaking shoe!

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Many scary clowns this year (many from IT) – this was my favorite!

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Royal Tenenbaums cosplay group.

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Strong Pro Wrestling representation in 2018 – including this picture-perfect Macho Man.

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French Kiss.

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It’s easy to phone in a Dread Pirate Roberts costume – this one is stellar! Great detail with him and Princess Buttercup.

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Back to the Future III group – what a great Buford Tannen!

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8th Annual Route 66 Birthplace Festival

I spent last weekend in Springfield, Missouri in the company of friends.  It was the 8th annual Birthplace of Route 66 Festival and I had a vendor booth in the Old Glass Place, a historic venue near the iconic Abou Ben Adhem Shrine Mosque.

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When I attended my first Birthplace festival in 2015, I told my wife that one day I’d have a booth at the festival and I’d feel like I had “made it.” Well, there I was with my photography and other goods three years later. Mike Ward was even kind enough to deliver my custom-painted Jack Rabbit Trading Post sign from Arizona!

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The whole weekend was a lot of fun. Each evening, a large group of roadies got together to eat, drink, and be merry. It’s a great environment for collaboration, too. That first night I drove to the Rest Haven Court to take photos of their neon sign which I’d only previously seen in the day. I parked a block away and waited for the tubes to light up as the sun sank below the horizon. After a few minutes, another photographer approached the sign. It was Efren Lopez, a man I hadn’t had an opportunity to get to know but whose work I really respect.¬† I stopped lurking and parked closer so we could chat about our mutual love of neon. Thanks to Efren asking the office manager, the sign finally lit up to match the beautiful Ozark sky.

Green Bridge Ozark MO

On Friday morning, I took an early drive south to the town of Ozark. They had a few old truss bridges that had been on my map for a while that I wanted to capture. The light was wonderful as I flitted about the Green Bridge, a 1912 span courtesy of the Canton Bridge Company from Ohio. The single lane was open to traffic, though its sister bridge two miles west was not so lucky.¬† Significant flooding a few years ago damaged several bridges in Christian County, some of which never re-opened. The Riverside Bridge was recently purchased by Bass Pro Shops in Springfield and will be moved/reopened. That’s great news!

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The days of the festival itself were festive indeed, with fleets of classic cars on the streets and a constant sea of humanity. My booth neighbors were Susan Croce Kelly (who wrote a book about Cyrus Avery) and David Wickline. David has been a figure in the Route 66 world for many years and I loved getting to talk to him about his various projects. His current push is to build a replica of the 66 Courts Motel in Kingman, AZ.

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The weather was good during the day but a Friday evening a pop-up thunderstorm threatened to cancel the parade. Our group watched from second-floor windows as the downpour faded away and the parade started…only for the rain to return suddenly with a vengeance. I felt bad for the folks on floats and riding in vintage open-top automobiles…but at least there was no hail.

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In too short a time, though, it was time to say goodbye and head home. I left Springfield early Sunday morning and hopped on-and-off the interstate to stop at a few Route 66 spots like the Gary Turner’s station in Paris Springs and the Boots Court in Carthage. It’s always nice to visit with the people of the road, even if it’s just for a few minutes. My final stop on the way home was at the Hi-Way Cafe in Vinita; if you missed my previous post about that visit, check it out here. The food and company were something to write home about!

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The Hi-Way Cafe

On the way home from Missouri this weekend, I stopped for lunch in Vinita, OK. Normally, I’d stop in at Clanton’s…but today I opted for the Hi-Way Cafe just west of town. I’d heard good things and the timing was right. I’m very glad I did.

HiWay

I pulled in to the gravel lot to find it quite full. I walked around the building and took a few photos before heading inside. I took a stool at the counter; an old man that had walked in behind me took the seat to my right.

“I saw you takin’ some pictures outside,” he said as he sat down. “That’s good! They’ve got some good stuff to photograph,” he said proudly. I remarked on the murals I’d captured as a waitress came over. “Hi, Leonard,” she said with family-like familiarity. “Coffee?” she asked, though it was mostly rhetorical. I followed his lead.

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I asked Leonard if he was from the area. “Lived here my whole life,” he confirmed. I asked him if he remembered when Route 66 was the main highway in these parts. “Well, I remember when this was just a two-lane,” he said. “I remember when my uncle…great¬†uncle, I guess it would be…came in to Vinita on the train. I’m 72 now so this was a long time ago. It used to flood so bad around here the only way we could get out was in my Dad’s truck. He had an old…it was old then…a 1941 International Harvester. You know what that is? Yeah…well, it was the only vehicle we had that could get to town when it was like that.”

We ordered our food; a single biscuit and gravy for Leonard and a burger for me. “Where are you from?” he asked as our tickets were passed back to the kitchen. I said Tulsa and the old man searched his memory again. “I had family in Tulsa that we’d visit from time to time. When we’d get to town, I remember seeing a tower. No, I think it was three. They was at Denver and Pine. We’d drive all the way into town, stay a while, and pass those same towers on the way home.” I smiled and told him I knew what he was remembering: the old KVOO towers on the east edge of town…also on Route 66. I added that KVOO was the station that broadcast Bob Wills to the masses back in the day and it sparked another memory for Leonard.

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“There used to be a barn on Highway 60.¬† It was, oh, about a mile off of 66. Had a big round top on it. Bob Wills and his boys would come up from Tulsa and play sometimes. People would come from miles around, on horseback and such, to hear them play. Those were good times,” he recalled fondly. I asked him if that barn was still standing. “No, it burned down. The owner was loadin’ hay into his truck and left the engine on while it was still in the barn. Somethin’ sparked and the place went up. I could see the smoke from the house I grew up in. Real shame.”

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Our conversation dwindled once our food arrived; it was delicious. Leonard noticed a group of guys at a nearby table and chastised them (between bites) for not mowing their grass in a timely manner. Something about a ditch and right-of-way, but I tried not to eavesdrop. I looked around and noticed the entire place was filled with locals; I appeared to be the only out-of-towner. That’s good; that means this place should be around a while.

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I finished my meal and thanked Leonard for the enlightening conversation. I stepped over to the cash register and our waitress fiddled with an iPad so she could take my debit card. “How was everything?” she asked with genuine interest. I said everything was perfect. “Is this together?” she asked, nodding towards the old man who was still engaged with his neighbor. I smiled and nodded. It’s a small price to pay for a local history lesson.

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