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.

Take note! A book of Notables.

I remember seeing his name spelled out in art deco tiles, but never saw him. Riding my bicycle along the sidewalk south of the railroad tracks in McAlester, I stopped more than once to look at a survivor from an earlier time. Saw Mr Chaney’s name in those still-colorful tiles, but never saw him – until today.

The tile-work was embedded in the sidewalk in front of what would have been George Chaney’s storefront way back when. If memory serves me (which it has frequently rebelled against, of late) there was a Chaney’s Funeral Home in McAlester, but – as in the case of many such establishments – it had its roots in the furniture trade. (After a Googling, I found a likely successor to the original Chaney’s and with their permission/forgiveness – I’ve included an image from their Facebook page…)

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You might sleep at night in your four-poster bed, but that long, long forever sleep would be enjoyed in a box. A good quality end-of-life sleeper would have been constructed by someone in the furniture trade, and that was the business of Mr Chaney when Oklahoma was Indian Territory.

In fact, that’s where I found his picture. A copy of Notable Men of Indian Territory came in with a boxful of books today, and being a sort of history nut, I figured I might recognize a name or two.

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It’s a nicely kept book, on the rare side, with engravings by Barnes and Crosby of St. Louis. In the time of this book’s publication, the technology to reproduce photographs was in its infancy and most printed material used engravings etched from photographs.

It took some page-turning before I happened on to his likeness. 170-something pages. I feel certain the Mr Rogers from Claremore that I ran across was likely the father or grandfather of Will Rogers, but the remainder of the hundreds of folks included are best known to their own communities and families.

At the time of its publication, George M. Chaney was still in a partnership with a Mr Becker, serving as secretary and treasurer of Chaney-Becker Trading Company. He was a member of the McAlester Chamber of Commerce and served on the city council at South McAlester, IT.

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Back then, there were two McAlesters, owing to the placement of the east-west railroad tracks, which went in farther south than J.J. McAlester would have liked. The businesses at the junction of the two sets of tracks were in “South McAlester.” Later, the ‘south’ part was dropped, and – still later – the original town site came to be called “Old Town.” (Again – if my memory isn’t letting me down… I’m sure some of my McAlester cohorts can set me straight.)

By 1910, George M. Chaney was on his own, and told the US Census enumerator that he was the proprietor of his own ‘home furnishing store.’ Back in that time, the street where our bookstore resides was dotted with several such stores, which also sold furnishings for funerals.

One thing is clear after looking through the ‘notable men’ of that period – they were all a dapper-dressed bunch. Plenty of stiff collars, bow ties (and the more familiar Windsor knot versions), and a few uniforms and tophats tossed in as well.

Despite the scarcity of this title, I’m not certain there is a crowd of potential buyers.

It may wind up being one I have packed up with me when I croak. I’ll bring the book with me when I get fitted for my “special” piece of custom furniture and all those notables can keep me company.

Secret Fame? News to me, anyway.

We’re usually quick to claim famous people who are from our town or state. Named a performing arts center for one here in Broken Arrow. Plenty of cities have streets named for the famous (and infamous, as indicated in latterly-published stories). Here’s one I missed completely.

David T. Walker

Maybe I’m just late for the bus, but I’ve followed music and musicians all my life to one degree or another, and I can’t say I ever knew about Mr Walker – much less the fact that he was born in Tulsa.

I don’t know how I happened to see the YouTube video, but there he was in a live concert in Tokyo, playing with jazzman Larry Carlton. The grey-headed bearded guy was playing some nice licks and I couldn’t figure out who he was.

David T. Walker

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Thank goodness for technology. Otherwise, I would have never run across him, or figured out who he was once I heard his music. Mr Walker has his own website, and Wikipedia has a nice entry about him.

The Tulsa World recently ran a pre-Emmy Awards story about Oklahomans who have been nominated or have won television’s top honors. I was familiar with most of them. The newspaper has done the same thing in the past when the Grammys or other music awards are being handed out. I read those articles, but don’t recall running across Mr Walker’s name.

He has a new album being released later this month (Sept 2017), which – I’m guessing – would be his sixteenth solo record.

Here is a partial list of the folks who had him play guitar on their own albums over the years: the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Four Tops, James Brown, Little Richard, Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderly, Herbie Hancock, Donald Byrd, The Crusaders, Sergio Mendes, Boz Scaggs (a McAlester Oklahoma resident when he was young), Billy Preston, Bobby Womack, Lou Rawls, Barry White, Bill Withers, Mamas & Papas, Nancy Wilson, Barbara Streisand, Gladys Knight, and Sarah Vaughn. Legends like Quincy Jones, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr, and Dean Martin. The Isley Brothers (another favorite of mine from the radio days). Carole (‘bout wore that album out) King.

You know the guy has to be something when you see the company he runs with.

Maybe you have heard of him before. Least-ways, you’ve heard of him now. Got some years on me and he’s still jammin’. Music – good for what ails ya’.

And books. Don’t forget books!

Come visit!

McHuston

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