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!

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.

Still crazy after all these years… (for XKE’s especially!)

There was a place called Tink’s Auto Mart on South Sheridan when I first moved to Tulsa. I was a lot younger then, and having sold the Chevy van I’d acquired to haul our music equipment around, I was pedaling to and from work on a ten-speed.

THAT’s enough to put the fear of the automobile in you, let me tell ya’. It was NASCAR-style driving in Tulsa even back then, but at least the streets (with exceptions) have been widened since then.

I worked in the shopping center across from Tink’s, and looking out of the plate glass windows of the store’s showroom, I could ogle the British sports cars set out on display. Nearest the street was a tiny little car, which looked like a toy from my vantage point. Sleek looking, but little.

Also facing sideways (to show it in profile from the street) and parked just behind was another sporty model – a little boxier, but quite a bit larger. It was displayed on some sort of raised ramp, so it could be seen over the smaller car.

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Behind the other two, also in profile, was long, torpedo-looking car – parked on a step-up concrete pad. It was gun-grey and about the sleekest looking thing I had ever seen. And believe me, I looked it over.

Rode my ten-speed across the street several times a week, after leaving work, just to look at those British sports cars. Particularly that grey-coloured (British spelling) work of art. It had twelve cylinders, which to me added up to – FAAST. It had a convertible top. Shifter. Wire wheels, sort of James Bond style, without the razor-tipped knock off caps.

I was working away at my day job, saving up some cash toward another vehicle and really imagining myself in that Great Grey.

Oddly enough, I didn’t even look at the price stickers until I had saved up enough that I thought it might cover a down payment. When I had stashed that amount back, I rode my bike over and looked at the cars, and the prices.

The Jag? The XKE grey beauty? Six-thousand dollars. Six thousand dollars, and I wondered who could possibly afford to spend that much money on a car. It was a wonderful machine, but clearly not for me.

The Triumph TR6 was also a good looking ride, I thought. Not so sleek as the Jag. Kinda boxy if truth be told. Six cylinders instead of the Jag’s twelve. Still, a nice top end on that wood-dash-mounted speedometer. Three-thousand dollars and change. And change, because the big number was the three, followed by the word ‘thousand.’ Still out of my league.

And so, I found myself peering into the cockpit of a Spitfire, the little brother Triumph sports car with the four cylinders and a top speed of eighty with a tailwind. It also had a nice wood dashboard, though. Shifter. Convertible.

And a price tag that started with a ‘one.’

I was still looking into it when the salesman sidled up and looked me over, gave a loud guffaw (pretty sure it was a guffaw…) and laughingly asked if I was going to use ‘that bicycle’ as my trade in. He might have meant it as a joke, but if he had intended it to be a snide and cutting remark, he could not have delivered it with more aplomb.

After mentally responding, I mounted ‘that bicycle’ and rode nearly seven miles through the NASCAR traffic to the other Triumph car dealer at 11th and Delaware. I was out of breath when I pulled up in their lot and was still gathering myself when the salesman approached me and said, “I think I have a Spitfire exactly the color of your bicycle.”

I think you just sold it, I replied.

I had a wad of cash in my pocket, and it turned out to be enough to get a set of keys placed in my palm.

If I had placed that car in storage instead of driving it for the next few years, it might be worth six thousand dollars today – maybe a little more to an excited collector. Remember, six-thousand? The price of the new Jaguar back then.

The XKE in the picture is a 1974, a used car, meticulously restored, and – excepting the color – pretty much the car I had ogled all those months from across the street. Asking price for this red beauty listed on Craigslist this afternoon?

$139,000.00

Plus fees. Man.

Although I’m considerably older now and have met some folks who could – I’m still wondering – who would spend that much money on a car? (Then again, just think of my profit margin if I had scraped up the money back in 1973!)

I can always imagine myself running through the Jag’s gears with the wind in my thinning hair, even while I’m actually behind the wheel of that thirty-year-old van…