Faith ‘n Begorrah! Another in the Books!

A Happy St. Paddy’s Day to one and all! (and a bit of a sighing on our part that we have gotten through it…) Corned Beef, Shepherd’s Pie, the occasional beer – green or otherwise.

We’ve had the experience of a few years to build on, but there is that old saw about the “best laid plans.” Today there were more crocks of food in the kitchen than last year when we ran out early. Better prepared this go ’round – but then, this year more people arrived at our door at lunchtime and once again we sold out.

Better to sell out than throw out, is my way o’ thinking.

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A special thanks for the kind restaurant review by Mr Scott Cherry of the Tulsa World – published on Wednesday – which was responsible for a number of our St. Paddy’s Day patrons. (Thanks also to our regulars, including a few who only visit for the annual wearin’ o’ the green.)

I’ve described St. Patrick’s Day as an event similar to surfing a big Oahu wave, leaning in to the point of wiping out, but managing to ride it to completion. We were at that point today for a few moments, when it seemed like we might be thrown head-first from the board – but then wound up gliding in safely onto the sandy beach.

Afterward, we decided that it could not have been possible if Kathy Hoefling Williams had not been managing the cash register, refilling drinks, and clearing the vacated tables. She had already left us by the time we acknowledged the fact, so this will have to serve as a heartfelt Thank-You Kathy! until next time we see each other.

I have no false pride in thinking I could have run the floor by myself today… if Alicia Davis had not put on the shamrock shirt and the apron and came to our aid, our lunchtime party could have been a wipeout of highlight reel proportions. Hugs of appreciation to both ladies for the ready smiles amidst the hard work.

Since the plan was to prepare enough food to serve an estimated number of diners at lunchtime, and since we met the estimate (even if our guess turned out to be a bit of an under-estimate) – the day must be considered a success. That achievement is due to the hard work, long hours, and sleepless nights of Dustin Hoefling, whose St. Paddy’s Day fare was on a par with any green-beer-presenting establishment in the entire US.

Sometimes we forget that those plates of food start out as planning and purchasing, followed by a heap o’ cutting and cooking. Dustin was in the kitchen well into the evening several times this week, and dragged himself out of bed before 5 am Friday to make sure everything was in order.

All I had to do is trot from table to table and claim complete credit (just kidding there, Dustin…).

As I type this, the other Irish-themed spots are gearing up for the second wave, that hectic white-water ride that is St. Paddy’s Day partying on a Friday night. Someone asked if I planned to have an Irish evening, and I thought of Kilkenny’s, McNellie’s, and Arnie’s and their annual Tulsa traditions. Thought about my old roommate Kenny Wagoner from Paddy’s Irish days, who has revived the brand and reopened under that name at 101st and South Mingo, and who will be having a particularly long night of it.

Then, I thought about my own long day, my tired feet, and the bed. St. Paddy’s Day will be back again soon enough.

Tonight, the bed gets my vote.

Thanks to all who came by for our modest party, (particularly those of you who had to wait for an available table), and may the Luck o’ the Irish be with all of you until next year!

McHuston

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

Looking Back is a Bad Habit: Rooster Cogburn

The three of them would walk down to Owl Drugs after school, and there they became a cartoonist’s club – of sorts: Paul Davis, Russell Myers, and Archie Goodwin. And who would have thought of the trio of Will Rogers High School students as headed for stardom?

What?

You don’t know them by name?

I had a surprise there, too. Opened up the mail and pulled out a first edition copy of True Grit by Charles Portis, which ranks somewhere near the top of my list of favorite books. As it is with any new acquisition, I was checking the copy, making sure it was everything it ought to be.

It was.

Portis wrote the story with a rural eloquence that is almost poetic. Then there is that wry humor as typified in the courtroom scene:

Goudy: I believe you testified that you backed away from old man Wharton?
Rooster Cogburn: Yes, sir.
Goudy: Which direction were you going?
Rooster Cogburn: Backward. I always go backward when I’m backin’ away.

My examination had me lingering over the dust jacket and the artwork. A singular style, I thought. Simplistic but powerful. Knowing the story, I thought it captured the essence of both Mattie – the main character – and the title of the book.

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I wondered who had painted it, and that’s when I learned about the after-school artists and Owl Drugs in Tulsa. Paul Davis did not linger in Tulsa long after high school. His skill with the brushes earned him a scholarship at a New York City art school, and he established a reputation and a clientele in short order.

His works were visible on the streets, on television, in magazines, and on movie sets. He painted record album covers and advertising art. He was in high demand as an illustrator even before he founded Paul Davis Studio in 1963. It was five years later that he was commissioned to do the dust jacket for True Grit.

It positively shocked me to learn that he grew up in Tulsa.

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But I could relate to the idea of a cartoonist’s club. My ninth grade buddies and I considered ourselves more of a clique than a club, but we spent more time than we should have, putting pen to paper. Shortly before the end of the semester, my English teacher took me aside and informed me that I had turned in so few assignments that she was going to be forced to fail me.

She told me she hated to “Fail” anyone, and intended to record my grade as – I – for Incomplete. The letter wouldn’t make so much difference, I thought – figuring whatever letter she wrote would probably keep me out of tenth grade, or have me in “summer school” at the least.

It likely wouldn’t happen today, but she allowed me to stay after school each day of that last week of school, starting at the top and working my way down the stack of the semester’s worth of assignments I’d failed to turn in…

…because my buddies and I were too busy free-handing the line art from A Tale of Two Cities.

It was passable art that almost kept me from passing out of ninth grade, but – obviously – not enough to win an art school scholarship.

On the other hand, Paul’s art buddies managed to find their ways into the art world. Archie Goodwin – whom I had the good fortune to meet on an occasion – made his mark in the comic book world and was a frequent guest at conventions.

The work of Russell Meyers is something I examine every morning. The Tulsa World carries his comic strip Broom-Hilda, which Meyers syndicated in 1970 – the same year I squeaked into my sophomore year.

It doesn’t surprise me that so many talented folks have ties to the Tulsa area, but I am surprised at the number – with international renown – who have managed to slip under my radar.

Being a fan of True Grit, it tickles me greatly to know that the story is set in our general area (including a visit to JJ McAlester’s General Store!) and is such a wonderfully written book wrapped in artistic local color.

Like to own a copy?

I just happen to know where I can lay hands on a First Edition…

Come visit!

McHuston

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

As Seen on Television…

Media Surprise Day! No advisory notice from Facebook or the 5-Things-4-Friday newspaper column, but we found out early in the day that we were on TV and featured in a magazine!

The early morning guests were just about as startled as I was.

“Saw you on TV this morning!” said the early-arriver, smiling.

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“You saw me?” I replied, thinking that if a camera crew had wandered in, I would have noticed. (Apparently, that isn’t the case, as proven by the next episode…)

“Sure did,” he answered. “This morning.”

We went through a mutual we-must-be-crazy moment, when I was pretty sure I couldn’t have been the one he had seen, and he was fairly certain I was. It was settled when he asked, “Do you have a first edition copy of a Charles Dickens book?”

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“I do,” I answered, and then remembered that the TV program Discover Oklahoma! had included a bit on the book when they interviewed Dustin and me last summer.

We’re a re-run, I guess. I missed it again. Fortunately, the OETA-produced program keeps its episodes on YouTube, so I was able to see the segment later. (You can watch it clicking here. Our segment starts at about the 9-minute mark.)

The TV Mystery had just been solved when a group of ladies arrived for lunch. Ms Judy whipped out a copy of TULSA PEOPLE magazine and opened it immediately to a page with a picture of cup of stew.

Familiar-looking.

“That looks just like our stew,” I said aloud, amazed at the incredible similarity.

It was a large photo and I could clearly see the finely-diced carrots, the potatoes, the thick brown gravy. Just. Like. Dustin’s. When I spotted flecks of basil, I thought – Wait a minute here. Looked at the text and our store name jumped out at me.

It wasn’t until later that I was able to read the short paragraph (we had to serve their lunch, after all…) and look again at the picture. No by-line or credit was given for the photograph or the text, but it is beautifully done (as far as stew can be a beautiful thing…), and presented in a very high quality publication. Nice slick pages and glossy photos.

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The ladies told me that they loved to go try out new places for lunch, and at having seen the cup of stew and the address, decided to give us a try.

I’m not certain the text is legible in the attached image, but the fine print after the headline reads:

“Dream of Dublin with a stop at Broken Arrow’s McHuston Booksellers and Irish Bistro. Nestled in the booming Rose District, the bookstore and café fills its tables for lunch, which features daily sandwiches and traditional Irish fare. Try the Everyday Special ($7), a cup of Irish stew – a menu staple – with a half sandwich for a hearty meal.”

They even included our internet address and store location.

Thanks right here and now to Dustin – it’s a grand-looking cup ‘o stew in the picture! A rousing Thank You to daughter (and Dustin’s sister) Kristen for helping in the front of the house today, and keeping the ladies happy.

And a Thanks! to the uncredited photographer who was wily enough to slip in and take pictures during our lunch rush – without me being any the wiser! (It has been extra-busy, of late, and I don’t seem to get any wiser…)

An official
McHuston Booksellers and Irish Bistro shout-out to TULSA PEOPLE publisher Jim Langdon, for allowing us to be included in the fine-looking and informative magazine!

Another year is upon us, and our wish to you is that your hand reaches out in friendship and never in need, so you may forget the troubles that pass away, and remember blessings that come each day.

Come visit!

McHuston

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