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!

Vintage car now. Wasn’t back then.

My father had me on his lap with his hand around mine, showing me how to shift through the gears. Three-on-the-tree, or whatever they called those old steering column shifters. It’s the earliest model car I remember our family owning.

1948 Plymouth.

“Maybe you’ll be driving this one of these days,” said my father. “Maybe pigs will fly,” I answered. (Just kidding.)

Back then I thought it was a possibility. Heck, maybe a certainty. I remember several times giving it the car-buyer-once-over. Checking out that sailing ship emblem on the trunk badge, exploring the curved lower door that was almost a running board. A moveable spotlight on the front fender with the grip and switch near the steering wheel. (Not one in the image, but WE sure had one!) Fine stuff. A visor-awning over the windshield. Light-up radio. Little chrome horn bar.

Yeah. All mine. One of these days.

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Man, what a beast. As you can tell, I’m driving down memory lane today. As a Craigslist browsing regular, I ran across a picture of a wreck of a Plymouth (project car, as it was described) that will – in all likelihood – remain a wreck until gravity pulls it into the earth’s crust.

It made me think about that old blue cruiser that used to sit in our driveway, though.

The whole car thing was an adventure. It belonged to my Uncle Maury and Aunt Evelyn, and they must have bought a new car, because – next thing I know – I’m riding on the train with my father to Wichita. One of the few times in my life I rode a passenger train. We’re going there to get a car and drive it back home.

I must have been pretty overwhelmed by the whole experience (I was just a little kid, easily overwhelmed…) because the next thing I recall about the journey was driving for hours and then pulling into my Great-Aunt Eva’s driveway. As he shut off the engine he explained to me that we were just there for a pit stop.

“Hello, hello!” said my father to Aunt Eva, who was smiling in the doorway, obviously not expecting us. “Can’t stay,” he said, as she let us in. He nudged me toward her as he diverted to pit lane.

“You’ll have some pie, though,” she answered.

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From somewhere down the hall, his muffled voice said something to the effect of ‘little time’ and maybe something about miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.

Aunt Eva leaned down to me. “You’ll have some pie.” (It wasn’t a question she put to me. It was a statement of fact.)

Faster than humanly possible, she drew out the pie, sliced and plated it, and handed me a spoon. It was one of THOSE kinds of pies – all creamy and meringue-y and delicious – the kind that requires a spoon.

Faster than humanly possible, I inhaled it. Hey, it was a kid-covert mission of sorts. I’d heard him say “no time” but Aunt Eva and I set out to prove him wrong, and we did. She anticipated his return and quickly towel-dabbed my face clean before he rounded the corner.

He exchanged the briefest of conversations with Aunt Eva, and then asked if I was ready to go. I nodded my assent, not trusting that the pie was completely swallowed.

It must have been a special kind of hug that Aunt Eva gave me, because – ever after – I believed she was the sweetest, kindest, kid-loving-est Aunt a kid could ever have. And my father and I walked down her tree-root-broken sidewalk to the new car.

The 1948 Plymouth.

Even today, seeing the rusted-out Plymouth in the picture on the internet, I suddenly think of pie and those childhood events we only later recognize as miracles.