St. Paddy and the Kid Zone.

It made me think about Kid Fun, back when I was a kid. The poster on the shop window is advertising the ShamRock-the-Rose-District party, scheduled for tomorrow, and – in addition to craft beers and live music – it mentions a Kid Zone.

That probably means a Bouncy-House and some face painting. I’ve not been to a Kid Zone in a while, admittedly, so there could well be video gaming and selfie-snapping as well.

When I was a kid, and owing to my sweet tooth, I was fascinated by the Cake Walk. A chance to win an entire, fresh-baked cake for the price of a ticket. A carnival ticket cheap enough that a cake-loving kid could afford to give it a shot.

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It was easy to recognize the event as a carnival favorite: It didn’t run continuously, so when folks began to sense it was nearing cake-walk-time, they would sidle up to the edge of the gaming circle. Then, when the call went out, all those lingerers would quickly step into an open space on the double-lined ring taped off on the ground. There were only so many numbered spots available and once the circle filled – well, the rest of the hopefuls were out of luck.

The Cake Walk was like a horizontal Wheel of Fortune without the tough questions to answer. The music started and the march began. When the person in front of you moved out of their numbered square, you took that small step forward. We’d march around for the length of that 45-rpm song playing on that little box of a record player.

When the music ended, the finger-crossing began, in hopes that the number to be drawn from the hat would match the digits under your feet. There was always a tension-delay – a pause before the winning number was enthusiastically called out. Time enough to shift your feet a couple of times to look down and verify that – for certain – the number you were standing on was still the same number.

Number Five! And there would be a squeal of delight from that spot on the circle, while everyone else kept their groans to a polite minimum before disappointedly slinking away to another rambunctious activity.

Like the fishing thing. It’s been too long, but I’m sure it had some catchy name. There were fishing poles handed out from the volunteers to the participants, sturdy poles with long heavy twine dangling from the business end. Instead of an actual hook – a clothes pin.

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I’ve admitted to most of you that I was probably the most naïve kid west of the Mississippi, but I even embarrassed myself for that brief instant before I realized there were people standing behind the hanging bed sheets who were clipping prizes to the dangling clothespins.

(I don’t know what I thought: I mean, the fishing pole implied ‘fishing’ and some degree of skill, experience, knowledge… No. You slung the line over the sheet and someone clipped on a prize. Woo.)

So, it was ‘grab bag’ on a stick. My prize?

A 45. Yellow and red label, Capitol Records. The Beatles. I Saw Her Standing There.
It was the beginning of my fan-hood, the predicator to my visits to that storm-cellar of a record department at Hunt’s Department Store, a retail area about twice the size of my bedroom closet.

Being naïve, I later bought with empty-pop-bottle-earned cash, a record – also by the Beatles – on a straight black label. The song was called “My Bonnie,” as in, My Bonnie lies over the ocean, my Bonnie lies over the sea.

I thought the record was doing most of the lying, since even I could recognize the singing as rock-and-roll short-shrift. I examined the label more closely. Sure enough, The Beatles. And in little, tiny print just below that: “with Tony Sheridan.” In fact, this was a Tony Sheridan record with the early-day Beatles as his studio backing band. The label should have read TONY SHERIDAN (with musicians who became the Beatles).

Beatles or not, it maintained a place in my stack of records for years and years – if only to remind a take-it-at-face-value guy that sometimes it pays to read the fine print.

Between the Sheets (of paper).

I tell people that I’ve found all sorts of things tucked between the pages of books that come into the shop. Everything but money.

I’ve never even come across a single dollar bill.

There was a woman once that semi-accused me, though. She popped in, gesturing frantically, claiming to have left her rent payment in a book she had dropped off. Seven-hundred-something-smackeroos.

It was true that she dropped off some books, but there was no cash involved and I told her so. Regrettably, I had not found any sum at all. She glared at me. Stopped waving her arms. Glared some more.

Sorry, I repeated. Didn’t find any money.

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And I could tell by her expression that – in her head – there was a whole line of thinking there about me and my denials. In short, she was thinking that I HAD found it, but was lying about it.

That’s not my style.

She returned the next day to let me know that she had found her rent money hidden in the kitchen (probably in that hiding place…) and she just wanted to let me know. Didn’t say she was sorry that she had accused me. In truth, she hadn’t said such a thing aloud.

But she did return, I think, because she knew that I knew that she was thinking just that very thing.

I was glad she found the cash.

Things I find in books are generally interesting, if not negotiable. A hastily-written last will and testament. (He survived the health scare, obviously, since he brought in the bag of books.) A valid passport. Receipts. Prescriptions.

And bookmarks from book shops in exotic locales.

Like “Ten Directions Books,” Taos, New Mexico. (From the bookmarker: Ten Directions – north, south, east, west, the four intermediate points, and the zenith and the nadir. In Buddhism this encompasses the whole cosmos. So says the marker.) A little research turned up a death notice for its proprietor Allan Clevenger some years ago, and apparently the shop did not survive his departure.

Not the case with Moe’s Books.

Do you have enough books? NO! I need Moe, Moe, Moe books! The SF Chronicle says “India has the Taj Mahal. Berkeley has Moe’s Books. Still in business, with a website on the internet that validates it.

Four floors of used, new & sale books – open every day. Says so right on the bookmarker.

Presumably, one of Moe’s books made it to Broken Arrow, OK – since I found the proof tucked between the pages.

But still – no dollar bills.

We’re on his list. A good one, thankfully.

A magazine mention!

It used to be the case that I would agree with that old axiom – all publicity is good publicity, as long as they spell the name right. In the post-H. Weinstein era that we live in, I’m not sure that adage is still on the mark.

But – as it is press coverage of a positive sort, and puts us in slightly exclusive company, I’m quite pleased to see us included in Scott Cherry’s list of the Tulsa area’s “Hidden Gems.”

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In the Tulsa World Magazine, Issue 13 – just out – Mr Cherry says “In a metro area the size of Tulsa, most everyone likes to frequent what could be described as hidden gems – restaurants with loyal followings that largely go unnoticed by the majority of diners.”

While I hate to think of our place as “unnoticed,” I recognize that we don’t have a large following like the big-boy restaurants. Give that we have only two employees – Dustin and me – it’s probably a good thing we don’t have a hundreds of folks lining up at lunchtime.

Even I had to admit that many of the other restaurants named in the article were previously unknown to me. (Although it isn’t surprising, given that I don’t get out all that often…)

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It was nice of Mr Cherry to include us in his list, and I’m proud to be among his ten favorite “hidden gems” in the Tulsa area. If you missed his list, here is a link to the slideshow.

Hidden Gems:
Tulsa World

It should be said that Scott’s columns have quite a following and even the mention in his list has resulted in several phone calls and lunchtime first-timers.

Judging from the photographs that were included in the article, there are some some pretty dishes being prepared out there, and – obviously – some pretty tasting offerings that are under-the-radar. And – like our lunchtime service – it appears many on the list are the product of owner-chefs and relatively small staffs.

Knowing what a tough business the food industry is, I’m was pleased to see that there are some real veterans out there, like LaRoma on South Sheridan in Tulsa. Thirty-plus years!

We’re in our twelfth year on Main Street in Broken Arrow, offering lunches for about half that time. I’ve worked some really, really busy places, cranking out food – and I have to say there are some positive aspects of being a “hidden gem.”

Particularly at washing dishes time.

Come visit!