Trees and Toppers

You might not notice it while driving through the Rose District, but there is a ceremonial flag flying over the First National Bank’s construction project. It’s the familiar red, white, and blue, but in olden times it might have been a small tree up there.

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Steel workers call it – ‘topping out’ – a building, when the last beam is put in place when framing a structure. It’s a practice that dates from ancient times and Scandinavian origins.

Back when faeries and wood nymphs and their associates were believed to populate the forests, builders knew that cutting down a tree as part of a construction project would affect the habitat. To appease the spirits, a tree was placed atop the completed framework before the interior and exterior work continued.

The practice migrated to lower Europe and crossed the Atlantic and has been most often illustrated in modern times with the setting of a flag on the final beam by steel workers on skyscraper projects.

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I’m not sure whether First National’s new tower qualifies as a high-rise, but it is certainly tall enough that I wouldn’t want to be the one raising the flag up there.

Folks are still asking what business is going in there. In their defense, vehicles are regularly parked in front of the fence where the artist’s rendering of the completed building is hanging. And, since the lettering of the bank’s name has been removed it lends to the impression that they have moved out.

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I understand some of the newly remodeled offices are now in use, and that staff members who have been jammed up in the south part of the building are preparing to move again so that part can be updated.

Despite the construction projects that continue through the heart of the Rose District, the streetscaping efforts are beginning to look settled-in – as opposed to looking ‘recently planted.’ The saplings that went into the ground are nicely shaped trees and the hanging flower baskets that are new this summer are all looking great, despite the heat wave.

This far into the summer in years past, the greenery was usually all reduced to brown-ery.

If you haven’t been ‘round lately, we’ve got some interesting additions on the book shelves and we’re serving up sandwiches, soups, and salads at lunchtime.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main Street, Broken Arrow OK!

Harping on Harper.

The book in the picture isn’t one-in-a-million. It’s one of two million. That’s the number cranked out by the Harper Publishing’s printing presses. Two million copies of Harper Lee’s new/old story – Go Set a Watchman.

That’s a lot of books, but it hardly compares to J. K. Rowling’s final Harry Potter release. Twelve million First Editions. Can’t advise holding on to that one until it becomes rare and expensive. Even Dan Brown (you remember Danny, of Da Vinci Code fame…); he had four million copies of Inferno in the publisher’s first run.

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That big first printing run total is why I don’t have Ms Lee’s Watchman in stacks and stacks around the book shop. There were probably a million copies pre-sold on Amazon alone. At any rate, there were enough pre-publication orders to give Harper Publishing an idea of how many copies should be printed for the initial release.

Here at the bookstore, the new story has generated its share of conversation. To date, the majority of interested folks have said they are reluctant to read the book, for fear of diminishing their opinion of Atticus Finch, the crusading attorney at the heart of the second half of To Kill a Mockingbird.

There are a lot of arguments being made on all fronts (and some in the dimly-lit back rooms where the origins of the manuscript are being questioned). Perhaps the bottom line is – the book that was reworked for years before it was published was To Kill a Mockingbird. The Atticus Finch in that story is probably the true nature of how Ms Lee intended the character’s portrayal in the end.

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And, of course – liking or disliking a book is always a subjective thing. If we all liked the same book, there would be a lot fewer titles out there. I’ve been asked if I liked it.

It only came out Tuesday.

If I read one of the copies, it isn’t new anymore and I’d have to put a used book price tag on it. So – I’ll just wait a bit.

There IS a copy of Watchman on the shelf behind my chair here. It is sitting next to my First Edition copy of Mockingbird. It is one of the five thousand first printings of the book, most of which went to libraries and universities.

It was already one of my favorite stories before I happened onto the First Edition. Since I sell books, I can’t really be a collector. But I’ve allowed myself five titles that I don’t have a price tag on.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the five. As for Go Set a Watchman – I’ve got a copy for you at $18.95… That’s cheaper than Amazon (when you add in shipping).

Read it and decide for yourself about Atticus Finch and Harper Lee and the legacy of authors and characters.

Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main Street, Broken Arrow OK!

Stop progress? That’s strictly a’gin the Laws!

It isn’t a “Ghost Sign” like the one that is now safely re-hidden behind the beautiful new façade of the recently opened Fleet Feet store. But you never know what surprises lurk behind old remodeling jobs, and often – there is a story, too.

I like stories.

Some of you may recall the Pontiac dealership signage that was revealed briefly in the Rose District (click here here for that story…). As with much of history, that particular chapter of Main Street past life is once again lost to time indeterminate.

Wait a minute, though!

There is another “reveal” in the Rose District and I’ve been hearing about it: “What’s that construction down the street?” is how it is typically worded. And I’ve been answering, “Oh, that’s Andolini’s Pizza – should be open soon.” But I’ve been wrong.

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Not about Andolini’s. (They are still making progess toward opening.) But I didn’t realize that so much has changed in the next block. Driving by the other morning, I spotted an architectural feature that I didn’t recall ever seeing before. For many, many years, the building had been the Furniture and Design Studio, with a tan-colored stone lower exterior.

Well!

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Behind that (now less) fashionable façade was an original building exterior of Main Street brick, complete with an arched doorway and elegant brickwork. It still has the 1904 date set in stone at the top, in which time it was known as the Laws Bros Building.
As it turns out – it is still called that in some circles. In Broken Arrow’s earliest days, the entire section of Main was the “Laws Brothers Block,” constructed in 1904.

The Gilford Laws family had migrated to Indian Territory from Tennessee and set up shop in the community, eventually at a new home on Avenue D, and by 1910, Joseph H. Laws (J.H. as he was commonly known) had a thriving medical practice upstairs in the family’s building on Main.

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Numerous changes were in store. Gilford Laws died in 1907, Joseph married and brought his new bride in to the home he shared with his mother Jemima and his medical office took in other physicians. A Broken Arrow Ledger article from 1906 listed the young town’s medical professionals:

…represented by Dr. A. J. Pollard, with parlors over Neibling & Bell’s mercantile establishment; Dr. J. B. Haggard, with parlors in the Laws building; Dr. J. H. Laws, with parlors in the Laws building; Dr. C. B. Maddox, with parlors over McKeehan’s pharmacy; Dr. F. C. Myers with parlors over the First State Bank; Dr. F. P. Dunn, with headquarters in McKeehan’s pharmacy; Dr. J. N. Shippey, with parlors in the Laws block, and Dr. R. B. Fowlkes, with headquarters at the Owl drug store.

When phone service was begun, patients could ring Dr. Laws by having the operator connect them with his office: Telephone 301.

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J. H. Laws was not only well respected in the Broken Arrow community, but in Tulsa County medical circles as well. Within twenty years of his arrival, the young physician was being mentioned in an article about the area’s medical arena:

Heading the Tulsa County Medical Society in 1924 was Dr. Arthur V. Emerson, a native of Rochester, Minnesota, who was later to intern at St. Mary’s Hospital, Rochester. Son of an Indiana farmer, Dr. Emerson was born in 1879. His professional degree was obtained in 1902 at the University of Illinois. He practiced in Rochester and later at Perry, Oklahoma, where he had been president of the Noble County Medical Society. Removing to Tulsa in 1913, he became a leading civic figure and an outstanding surgeon and gynecologist.
Dr. Charles H. Haralson was selected as secretary-treasurer. The young ophthalmologist had done most of the work in that post in 1923 due to the illness of Dr. Horace T. Price. The latter was selected as president-elect to serve in 1925. Dr. J. H. Laws, Broken Arrow, was elected vice-president.

In the 1930 phone book, Joseph H. Laws still maintained his practice in the upper suites at 210 South Main. Dr. Laws died in 1941 at the age of 66, but the family name is still associated with the building. The Rose District website explains the changes that are currently underway and the plans that are in store for the space…

Laws Bros. Building 210 S. Main St., Rose District This 10,000 SF turn-of-the-century Mercantile style building will undergo restoration and improvements this summer. Upon completion, it will have four commercial units ready for lease in Fall 2014. The existing 50’ x 100’ structure will have a new roof, updated HVAC and electrical systems, 6 ADA bathrooms, stained concrete floors downstairs, hardwood floors upstairs, and updated lighting throughout. The brick façade will be restored to its original Mercantile design, with tall windows, ornate brick details, and outdoor lighting. The redevelopment will create two distinct commercial spaces downstairs and two units upstairs with the possibility of further expansion on the west side of the building, if necessary. There is also an opportunity to combine units for one tenant. Unit A – Retail – 2,500 SF Unit B – Restaurant/Bar – 2,500 SF Unit C – Restaurant/Bar – 2,500 SF Unit D – Office/Studio – 2,500 SF

Personally, I’m excited that the heritage of the building is being restored while the purpose of the structure is as solidly modern as the future of the Rose District.

A “Tip o’ the McHuston Hat” to the developers and contractors, with grand wishes for continued growth here in the Rose.

If you haven’t been lately – Come visit!

McHuston

Booksellers & Irish Bistro
Rose District
122 South Main St. Broken Arrow OK!