Time Machines and Feel-Good Summers

The bridge had evenly-spaced expansion joints, and when we roared over it, his Mustang would rise and fall with each dip in the pavement. Craig would point out that we were “riding the Mustang” and we’d laugh about it every time.

I was in high school but too young to drive. He had a bright and shiny Mustang that had to have been a 1965 model, or somewhere in that ballpark. It was a nice car. Not brand new, I don’t think – but nice.

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It seems crazy now, but I don’t remember a discussion about why he changed from the speedy Mustang to a Volkswagon Beetle. It just sort of happened one day. No more Mustang. We were reduced to racing around town at the speed of slug. As in – slug-bug. (They weren’t Super Beetles back then. A lot of putt-putt. But fun.) Country roads, lake access stretches, Carl Albert Parkway down to Tandy Town and back, around to the A&W and then south to the Sonic.

Then start over.

That was small town life in that time. Maybe still is.

Parked just outside the front door today was a time-travel machine. At least, that’s the effect it had on me. A beautiful red Ford Mustang that had to have been completely restored to its original glory – since I don’t think any car of its age could have survived so long, looking so pristine.

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I dragged Dustin out of the kitchen to have a look at it. Made him peek inside at the gauges and steering wheel – a couple of the classic features. He was patient with me, taking it in. I knew a car like that doesn’t provoke the same emotions for him. It was a beautiful car to look at and he could appreciate it for what it was. It was a thought-starter for me. Impressive enough that I got the phone-camera out and snapped a couple.

Just looking it over brought all sorts of memories crashing back.

It seems to me that – the more time that passes since my high school days, the fewer occasions I have to think about that era. (Mesozoic, I think it was…) Oh, there are the occasional pictures shared on the internet that inspire memories. But there is nothing like a brilliant red time-capsule-condition Ford Mustang to make me smile and think about some wild-eyed things and… What were we thinking?

One of these days, I will be rich and famous enough to attend my high school reunion (don’t be holding your breath on that happening soon). Until then, I’ll commune with my former classmates in some of the just-remember-the-good-things recollections that are brought on by an impressively painted machine outfitted with bucket seats and a 289.

We’re in the Rose District! Come visit!

McHuston

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

Seen & Scene around the Rose District

Here’s proof that Broken Arrow has outgrown its small-town beginnings. In McAlester, where I grew up, if one of the banks was remodeling its building, everyone in town would know about it. Too big a secret to keep, especially if the construction was taking place on Main Street. BA is big enough now that Main Street and bank buildings aren’t on everyone’s radar.

I’ve been asked almost every day for the past several weeks – “What’s going in across the street?”

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The building project is hard to miss, but perhaps it is harder to see the artist’s depiction of the finished version hanging on the temporary fence around the north and west sides of the building. It’s still 1st National Bank over there. Employees are a little jammed up while the work is being done, but none of the many who drop by for lunch have complained.

And – the job is apparently still on budget and on time.

I had suspected that the extent of the renovation might have thrown some projections off. I understood that the condition of the structure behind the façade might have been somewhat of a surprise. But the previous wooden supports have been replaced by a formidable set of steel beams and girder that should hold up the roof quite nicely.

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Although the bank has undergone remodeling before, the business has occupied what used to be separate buildings that were merged as the bank expanded. When the front exterior was removed, it was easy to spot where the old structures had their original walls.

According to the 1930 Broken Arrow telephone directory I’m looking at, and the First National Bank ad on page eight (there are a total of sixteen pages in the little phone book), you would have talked to a banker by dialing 234. The ad proclaims the business to be “Faithful Throughout the Years” and “Established 1902.” The address is given as 123 S. Main, which puts them directly across from the current bookstore location at 122. (It has been pointed out to me that one did not ‘dial’ the phone back in that time. An operator came on the line and asked, Number please…)

The bank is still directly across, but it is quite a bit larger these days.

Back in 1930, Kennedy Implement Company was also directly across the street from what is now our shop, and it took up considerably larger parts of Main. The business owned by J. W. Kennedy took up buildings at 117, 119, and 121 South Main – pretty much the part of the bank building currently under renovation.

Mr. Kennedy was a versatile businessman. In addition to the implements, furniture and hardware he sold at retail, residents could summon his aid by dialing 365 and he would dispatch an ambulance. If that didn’t work out, calling the same number would connect the next of kin to Kennedy Funeral Service and the expertise of L.L. Streed, the funeral director in the employ of Mr. Kennedy. Of course, during the daytime hours, Mr. Streed had his own direct line, and could be reached at 211.

So – it may be another few weeks before the bank’s exterior will reassure folks that First National is remaining at its current location on Main, in our Rose District. Until then, I’ll have to keep answering the questions.

And no, it isn’t going to be a new mall.

Come visit!

McHuston

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

Early rain, sirens, and flashing lights.

To update this post:

I was deeply saddened to learn that the accident victim was Mrs. Barbara Kimbrough, as it had been earlier suspected. She was a long-time bookshop customer and lunch time guest, who – in the early stages of the book store’s existence – stopped by to have me locate books, perhaps – I suspect – to simply give the business a little boost. Sometimes she’d drop off a book of her own for me to read, when she believed I’d find it interesting. I always did. I was pleased to do bookbinding work for Mrs. Kimbrough on occasion, and to serve her at lunchtime. It never bothered me when she called me ‘Kid,’ even though it used to when I was one. She will be missed.

It’s unsettling to see flashing lights ahead, the strobes of emergency responders and police, when it is clear they are coming from the front of the business. And your son is inside. Beyond the unrelenting rain, that was Thursday’s greeting.

When I got to the intersection, there were even more vehicles than I first realized and I scanned the front of the bookstore as I pulled into the turn lane. I wanted to see what was going on – but at the same time, I didn’t want to see traces of smoke creeping out of the doorway or any of the countless other scenarios I am capable of imagining.

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The light turned green and I started to turn onto Commercial. The police cordon was waving me away. Hadn’t seen them gathered there. I was too busy trying to see what the cars in front of the shop were doing.

It was hours later that I learned a pedestrian had been struck by a vehicle. A police representative came by early in the lunch hour to show a cell phone photograph of the victim, and could I identify her?

What a feeling of helplessness. The image had obviously been snapped as the woman was being readied for the ambulance. Bandages. Tubing. Medical tape. She could have been any of several women I see every morning passing in front of the shop. There are folks that I have seen passing by for years now, trotting the length of the Rose District and back to the The Hub, the popular gym between here and Kenosha.

I could point out various folks that have Main Street as part of their morning or afternoon routine. They are men and women I may never formally meet, but like the city workers who tend to the district landscaping, we exchange pleasantries or simply nod and smile in passing.

Those of you who have patiently followed my occasional ramblings will remember the somewhat-regular ranting of mine about cars on Main – specifically their drivers. I’ve watched mothers with toddlers trying to gauge a safe time to cross the street, even when they have the benefit of the light. I’ve seen accidents now, and many more near misses between cars trying to back out onto that stretch of NASCAR pavement.

Rest easy. I’m in restraint today. No soapbox ranting.

If you have prayers to spare, send a few out for the woman who was simply walking through our Rose District and met with calamity.

What happened this morning could have been the result of the rain and low visibility, or any number of random circumstances brought together by ill timing. Errors in judgment are made by pedestrians and drivers alike. But motorized vehicles certainly have the survival advantage in the crossing of paths.

Someday, it may occur to people that part of the reason the Rose District exists is to draw people to the area. And hopefully get out of the car and walk around a bit.

But when you walk from our shops in the Rose District, please remember to use caution entering the street or crosswalks. Don’t expect vehicles to stop when the crosswalk lights are flashing. Realize that drivers intent on turning right on the red light routinely continue driving well into the crosswalk and often turn without stopping at all. Some drivers remember Main as a four lane parkway from 71st to 91st, speed limit 45 – heck, push it to 50.

Hearing the phrase “pedestrian friendly” – no matter how often – does not yet make it the truth.