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 A Brief Stroll Down Memory Lane

Memories of Tulsa

This section began as an exchange on the Tulsa County, OK e-mail list and I thought it might bring back memories for you. Several people have read this section and shared their memories. Please feel free to send me yours to share. Thanks Linda

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nanny su: I have been trying to think of the names of the theaters we had early Tulsa...I can remember THE RITZ... THE RIALTO...THE ORPHUM...THE GEM AND THE MAJESTIC... I know there was one south and 2 north ..1 by the vidock and 1 by Dick
     Bordens I think...can you help me?? Will appreciate it...thank you

Mickie D: How about the Delman at 15th and Lewis. And the Tulsa at 2nd and Main Street (early 50's); the Tower at 11th and Denver. There were two on East 11th, but I don't recall their names...but I think one was Will Rogers. It was at 11th and Sandusky(?). The other one was at 11th and Atlanta, by Wilson Jr High School. I'm on a roll...The Plaza at 15th and Peoria. Oh, there was one at Admiral and Lewis (Whittier Square), the first to open away from downtown, by the name of Circle Theater. These were more or less neighborhood theaters. There were two on the Main Street viaduct in the mid 50's, Uptown and Cozy. If I'm not mistaken there was one more, not sure of its location, but near downtown Tulsa, called the Lyric Theater that closed in the early '40's and was demolished in the 1970's. This was before my time...early 1940's. Thanks for a stroll down memory lane...

Dee (Deloris Welling) At the Majestic Theater on Saturday morning, we could go to an event sponsored by the Tulsa Jaycees which was broadcast on the radio, called Safety Legion. We were divided into teams the "Go Getters" and, the "Do Gooders". We could self select our team and change "at will". There were always safety tips and this is where I first saw our friend Sgt. Martindale of the Tulsa Police Department and his famous talking bicycle. Oh yes......this event, including the movie, was FREE!

Lonnie Groendes here. Class of '58. Other theaters included The Cove (where all we West-Siders spent Saturdays), The Delman on 11th Street, just West of Lewis and the Circle which was out by Will Rogers High School

Linda, Thanks a million Mickie! Oh yes I remember almost all of them ... but what about the Drive-Ins? The Admiral Twin was the one I went to the most, but there several more. The first one I remember was out on Apache. The Admiral Twin is still standing - I passed it the other day.

Mickie D: I'm trying to remember the name of the drive in on Apache... I do remember the Capri, Bellaire, AirView(?), and SkyView or SkyLine... Remember kids sneaking into a drive-in in the trunk of a car? Not me, I was chicken little. I remember one car that had stow-aways in the trunk. The car was so low back that it nearly touched the pavement when it drove in, and normal when it drove out.

Lonnie Groendes here. The Drive In theater on Apache was called ... ready...The Apache!

Linda: And do you remember the grandeur of those downtown movie theaters - the red velvet curtains - the plush chairs - the ushers - the balcony - the thick carpet. None of the modern movie theaters can come close to those old ones.

Mickie D: I don't remember which one it was, but I'm thinking it was the Ritz Theater that had an ambiance of being outdoors...look up and see stars. I thought that was so dreamy, and so much cooler than a drive-in. However, I wish I could have seen an actual vaudeville act before the theaters turned into movie houses/picture shows. Remember, the theaters were the first public buildings to be air-conditioned. We dressed up to go to the movies. Heck, we dressed up to go shopping.

Linda: While we are strolling <g> ... Pennington's, Cotton's ... Saturday nights
... Stuffed ourselves on burgers, onion rings and gallons of cherry (or vanilla) cokes all to the sounds of rock 'n roll.

Mickie D: Oh yes, anyone who was 'anyone' had to at least drive through Pennington's. The guys showing off their cars...

Linda: Or ... the Wonder Bread Bakery ... (You could smell the fresh baked bread "a mile away") ... or Easter Sunrise Service in Chandler Park ... or Skyline Park in Jenks ... Wandering thru Woolworth & Kress downtown ... Saturday night dances at Teenation or the "Y" ... remember any of those?
     Saturday morning for me "back then" was catching the bus and going down town. Movie was a dime, 6 donut "holes" and a large milk was a nickel. Then to the movie then a nice long browse thru Woolworth and Kress and it was time to catch the bus home. Can you even imagine turning a 10-12 year old loose like that nowadays?

Mickie D: Why did the world have to change? Where is the yesterday that worried us so? "Memory has many hollows...let me hide in one." Joan Walsh Anglund. Mickie

Joan: How about Ike's Chile Parlor -- best ever...Brown Dunkin & Vandevers, with their elevators with a operator "Going up!" Frougs with their volume tubes to take the money up to the office, Newberrys, Woolsworth and Kress fountains (yummy sodas) and lunch on the stools?
     I thought of some more--Speaking of air conditioning - the first department store to have it was Sears down on 6th and Boulder (it was freezing). There was also Rainbow Bread.
     How about the swimming pools? There was one over in West Tulsa or Red Fork-- remember the name? Also one going out toward Sand Springs line?
     The other one was "Riverside Park" Swimming pool, picnic tables, baseball field and open air dance hall at 71st and Peoria (my grandfather owned this one). I lived at 62nd and Trenton and could hear the Big Band music from there.
     Those were really swimming pools (Huge) !!!

Linda: The swimming pool going out toward the Sand Springs line was Newblock (New Block) Park.
     I grew up north of Turley and after they closed the swimming pool behind Rainbow Skating Rink we used to (get this!) walk from 75th St North & Peoria to Skiatook - about what 5 or 6 miles? (our folks would not allow us to ride our bikes on Peoria). Walked there spent the day swimming and then walked back. Admittedly we walked down the railroad track so it was a straight shot but still - can you imagine any of today's kids hoofing it that far? Maybe that's why we were all so skinny - you think? <LOL>
     And, Remember the old Warehouse Market downtown? They turned it into a used book store - I spent hours and hours and hours there. Had to take the bus downtown and then hike over several blocks but what a way to spend a day. It's now on the historical register. I'm trying to dig up a photo of it to put on the Tulsa site.
     Such fun to stroll thru the old memories isn't it?

nanny su: The Acme ...Yellow ... and Checker Taxi cabs. The Old Coliseum where you ice skated at Christmas, candy and fruit were given to children and the whole building was over flowing ... I think sponsored by Leroy Mc ----- a wrestler... also there would be entertainment. [Deloris Welling says - The Wrestler who sponsored the Christmas Event at the Coliseum was Leroy McGirk.] The children (including me) was in awe. For 30 cents I could ride a bus (5cents) go to a movie to see Gene Autry (10 cents) get popcorn 5 cents) stop by the wonderful original CONEY ISLAND (5 cents) and catch a bus home) I would be gone about 4 hours and my granny had nothing to worry about ... no cell phones to check etc ... there was a used and new book store around the corner of Coney island that you could get used comics for 5 cents or trade 2 for 1. How I wish I still had my collection.
     The premier of TULSA...SUSAN HAYWARD ... CHILL WILLS And I think PRESTON FOSTER appeared on stage and in parade with PRES. TRUMAN. I can still see them riding on the back of convertibles...Pres Truman had on a blue suit and he had the bluest eyes...Every one dress up ..ladies always had gloves and hat. Never seen a lady in jeans...also the Wal-Green drug store which gave many a young person there first jobs. Yes Tulsa holds a lot of sweet good memories for me...and here my grandchildren has NEVER GOT TO SEE DOWN TOWN...I thank all of you for sharing and Linda thank you for all your work....God Bless nanny su

Mary: When someone mentioned Kress and Woolworths downtown I remember sitting on the stools at the 'soda' fountain and having Cherry Limeades and as a child they were something special... I still make them today and it reminds me of 'home'! I loved going to Swan Lake with my mother and grandparents and feeding the swans (it didn't have a fence in those days). It is a stop I always make when we make a visit to Tulsa.

Sondra: The name of the wrestler was Leroy McGuirk. And the actor who starred with Susan Hayward was Robert Preston, not Preston Foster.
     I remember the Orpheum and Rialto well - I worked at both while I was going to college at the University of Tulsa. I loved the Orpheum with its organ, the balcony and the beautiful ornate architecture.
     Also, the name of the drive-in on Apache was the Apache Drive-in. My husband worked at the Apache, Capri, and Bellaire Drive-ins.
     I remember going to see the circus at the Coliseum with my grandfather shortly before it burned down.

Millard New: There were three movie theaters on Main between 1st and 2nd. Two were on the East side of Main and one on the West. The one nearest 1st on the East side had closed prior to my "wondering the downtown streets alone" so never saw the inside. However the other two saw my 10 cents quite often. I remember two of their names: State and Strand theaters. But don't remember the third's name.
     How about the outdoor watermelon place on the Southeast corner of Denver and 4th. Oh, was that good, cold, and entertaining. The Salvation Army's Red Shield Boys Club (which by the way probably had as many GIRLS as boys) on Cheyenne between 2nd and 3rd streets. I spent many a days and evenings there. And who never stood in front of the Tulsa World newspaper printing location on Bolder between 3rd and 4th looking through the large window watching in fascination the paper running through all those rollers during the printing process? What a beautiful Post Office building we had on Bolder between 2nd and 3rd. I remember the blind man who had a small candy, etc, stand inside. As a young man I also spent lots of time in Brown-Duncan (sp?) at the corner of 4th and Main. You road the elevator to upper floors and no push buttons. There was an elevator operator at all times. On one of the floors, they had horse saddles on display. That was my favorite floor. I spent more time than I care to admit sitting astride those saddles pretending to be riding with my favorites, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. And then there was the FREE weighing scale located inside that magnificent bank, First National between 3rd and 4th on Boston. Had many fountain cokes in the two drug stores located on opposite corners of 4th and Main. I could go on forever!!!!!
     Just remembered; there was a movie theater in West Tulsa just off of 11th street a few blocks past where the 11th street bridge crossed the Arkansas River. It's name was the Cameo.
     Remember the Pepsi Cola bottling company at the corner of 3rd and Houston, just before 3rd crossed over the Frisco RR. And the Elwyno (spelling?) bottling company a block away on 2nd and Houston. Then the 7 Up bottling company on 4th between Guthrie and Houston. Last remembrance. My home where I lived is no longer there. It was on Jackson Street (really a brick alley) between 3rd and 4th. It is no longer there. A parking lot covers the area now. Anyway, I could look out our front window at night and see the colored lights atop the 1st National Bank change from Green to Red to White (I think these were the colors). I have told my children many times about that bank and how it lit up the Tulsa Sky at night. I no longer live in Tulsa but too bad the Tulsan's of today cannot enjoy that beautiful site.
     I remember in about 1956 or '57 our teachers at Tulsa Central announced that if anyone would volunteer to sand bag the rain swollen Arkansas river along Riverside Drive just before the 51st Street bypass, we would be excused from school. Of course, I along with most of my male friends took them up on their call for help. We spent the rest of the day working (heck, having fun). The Red Cross and the Salvation Army were there with eats and drinks. We felt proud of ourselves.

Linda: Things have changed now days in downtown Tulsa. Coney Island moved from its original location to a spot on the corner across the street. It's much larger but somehow it's not the same! There's now another "Coney" spot in the old location. I also got an e-mail not long ago from the grandson of Ike (Ike's Chile) and he told me they are reopening an Ike's on Main downtown. How nice that it will be back.
      (Linda - update: Ike's isn't going to reopen downtown.)

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