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.

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.