Rainbow Inn (Skating Rink)

Southwest corner of North Peoria & 71st Street North
Turley OK

Jack Murphree

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Photo Rainbow Inn

Photo of the Murphees

In 1924, my grandparents, Charles and Nancy Murphree, bought a large 2 story brick home on a 10 acre tract in Turley, Oklahoma, (now 7000 block on North Peoria Avenue). Charlie (as he was called), had just left the oil refinery in West Tulsa, and it was to be their country home.

About a year later, the Old Dutch Mill, a dance pavilion on east 11th Street in Tulsa, had a severe fire with a large loss, and was forced to shut down. My Grandfather submitted a bid to buy the material remaining at the burned structure, and was the successful bidder. He had a plan to use the material to construct a dance pavilion on the north end of his Turley property. It was during the depression years and jobs were hard to find. He had very little trouble hiring a group of able bodied men in the area who were looking for work. Shortly before completion of the pavilion, he began to run out of money to pay the workers. When he informed them, they agreed to work on credit until the pavilion was opened and he could then afford to pay them. Every day, my Grandmother cooked a wash tub of soup and served them lunch until the building was completed.

When the construction was completed, the pavilion was named 'The Rainbow Inn'. On opening night, the beer and soft drink trucks waited at the south end of the building until there were enough tickets sold to pay them. Everyone believed and trusted in my Grandfather .. and within a short time, he paid off all his workers.

During the next few years, The Rainbow Inn became widely known by residents throughout Northeastern Oklahoma. Bob Wills played his first engagement in Tulsa County there. My Grandmother worked selling the tickets and my Grandfather took tickets at the door. He also managed the overall operation of the pavilion. He always had a compassion for anyone who was broke. He used to let many of the local residents in, (who were broke), in exchange for keeping up the coal stoves or do other small chores.

My Dad, who at the time, was a constable with the Sheriffs Department, worked as the bouncer. My mother, Hazel, worked in the check room. She kept me in a basket in the cloak room when she couldn't get a baby sitter. It was all pretty much a family operation.

In 1931, my Grandparent's home burned to the ground. They never knew the cause of the fire. They converted their 2 car garage to a small residence, which was built on to throughout the years as they could afford it. There they lived the remainder of their lives.

I have many memories of things that occurred while growing up at the Rainbow Inn. On one occasion in about 1933, a well dressed man came to see my dad, and they visited about 20 minutes. I was only about 4 years old, and I seldom had seen a man dressed in a suit .. and he really got my attention when upon leaving, handed me a dollar bill. He told me to buy myself some candy ... he was awfully nice. My dad told me it was Pretty Boy Floyd. So the Rainbow Inn had people from all walks of life pass through it's doors.

Another time, a "B" Western Movie was filmed at the Rainbow Inn. I remember they stacked bales of hay on the inside. The star was Jack Hoxie. I never heard of him, but I guess he was popular at the time. I remember one day, after they had filmed a fight scene, I was surprised that they were apologizing to each other when it was over. I had never seen anyone apologize after a fight at any of the dances.

Another regular event at the Rainbow was boxing matches. They were held there every month for 2 or 3 years in the late 1930's. The Rainbow Inn was also used as a polling place during elections. Even after my grandfather converted the dance pavilion to a skating rink in 1934 or 35, it was used as a polling place for a few more years.

It remained a skating rink until the middle 1950's. Although it had several different managers during that time, About 1947, my parents assumed the management of the skating rink, and converted the snack bar area to include the sale of groceries. They later built a new grocery store on the south end of the skating rink and rented part of the rink to be used for a Shoe Repair Shop. When the grocery store closed, it was converted into a coin-o-matic laundry.

During the years between 1926 and 1955, the old "Rainbow Inn" was a dance pavilion, a skating rink, a root beer stand, an auction house, shoe repair shop, and a laundry, and a used furniture store. Also, at one time on the property, there was a public swimming pool, and a miniature golf course.

When the building was torn down, my Grandfather donated much of the lumber to a route salesman who worked for the Pepsi Cola Company, to build a home and cabin on Grand Lake. Grandfather, (who loved to fish), had an open invitation to use the Cabin on his fishing trips during his senior years.

My Grandfather passed away in 1968, at the age of 86.

He left a lot of memories and lived a full and complete life. As a young man, he moved here from Murphreesboro, Tennessee, a town his ancestors settled. During his lifetime, he was a barber, a school teacher, a refinery worker, a country carpenter, and served many years on the Turley Water Board, where he installed and repaired water lines and read meters, as well as managing and overseeing the variety of facilities at the Rainbow Inn location. He spent a lot of time with me and taught me many things. One of which I found to be true and important ... "If you want anything in this life, you have to work for it". I shall never forget him .. he has pretty much been a role model for me throughout life.

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Linda Haas Davenport