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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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 Memories from Effie Oldham: Dear Linda, I was raised on the west side in Red Fork, and remember riding the bus to Tulsa on Saturday mornings to attend one of the theaters downtown. It seemed every kid in Tulsa went there. The leaders divided us up into teams and we had all kinds of contests on stage. I remember the bubble gum blowing contests, spelling, just questions about movies and movie heroes. Our heroes then were Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Wild Bill Elliot, Zorro, Superman, and on and on. They showed Serials" for us (progressive episodes each week with a 'cliffhanger' at the end, so you would come back and see what happened.)
     Oh, yes, anyone remember waiting for the bus at Skaggs, 5th & Main? When the weather was bad the owner allowed people to wait inside and watch out the window for the bus to come.
     I remember the black people always sitting on the back row of the bus and wondering why. Then I remember when they were able to sit anywhere on the bus, like the rest of us, use the public bathrooms and go to the same restaurants, etc.. That made me happy. I remember DWHS (Daniel Webster High School) being one of 10 schools in the nation being chosen as a 'pilot' school for de-segregation. Soon after, Jackie Robinson visited our school and spoke in assembly.
     Remember the Mezanine in (I think) Vandevers? That is where the bathrooms were and you could look out over the wall and see downstairs.
     Remember Seidenbachs (The ritzy store) and Lerner's, just down from them for us poor folks?
     I remember loving to ride the elevator at the National Bank of Tulsa. My aunt was an elevator operator there and she would let me ride up and down several times when I went there to see her. It went soooo fast and my tummy seemed to jump right up into my chest.
     Anyone remember skating at the Arena? We would ride the bus to downtown and transfer to another bus to get there. Or, sometimes we would just walk from 5th & Main to 11th & close to Lewis where the Arena was located. It was near the Warehouse Market. If anyone offered us a ride, we would take if we wanted to, with no fear of danger.
     How about the Cove Theater in Red Fork, the Crown Drug Store and Dooley's Drug Store, Kemper's and Beard's Restaurants, the Belair drive in. Does anyone remember the cafe across the railroad tracks and Sapulpa Rd (now SW Blvd) from Webster High School? They had the best chili on the west side and "Shine", the owner was so good to all the kids. It was "off limits", but we went anyway. How about Alberty's, across from the DWHS auditorium, and her 'hot meat' sandwiches?
     Does anyone remember the road out south of Red Fork that was famous for having tarantula spiders? Anyone remember "Rock Crusher Road" out by Berryhill and Sand Springs?
     Oh, the name of the park on Sapulpa Road by West Tulsa is or was Reed Park. That is where impetigo broke out one year and all the pools in town closed.
     Anyone remember Jimmie's Delicatessen next to the Cove Theater. Paula and Jimmy ran it. It had a juke box, sandwiches and burgers and a dance floor. Also Crow's, across from Clinton Jr. High. It was just a store, then they built on to the back and put in a juke box and started making lunches there. We could also dance.
     And, yes, we thought nothing of walking long distances in those days. Many times we kids walked from Red Ford, down through West Tulsa, across the 11th street bridge, and then down the railroad tracks to Newblock swimming pool. Then come back the same way after a full day of swimming. We also walked the railroad tracks in Red Fork over to the Crystal City swimming pool. anyone remember the kids programs at Howard Park by Pleasant Porter Elementary school? We played horseshoes, played in the wading pool, had swings and a merry go round, even did crafts.
     Remember the amusement park out North and the watermelon stand on the corner of, I think Admiral and Apache? Effie 'Henson' Oldham
     Many of the "older" readers may remember some of the hot spots of the "40's. How about the Casa Del at 11th st & Yale ( I think). Or the Casa Loma ball room at Crystal City. This is the same Crystal City that also was an amusement park. During WWII the servicemen on furlough enjoyed dancing to Glenn Miller style music until the wee hours. If open air was more your style you would go to the Blue Moon on a hill on North Cincinnati at about 56th street North. The Mills Brothers appeared there from time to time. Great in the summer time. The dance floor was totally in the open as was the band stand. Downtown you could always find a lot of action at the Music Box. I remember it being on south main in about the 1000 block. The St Moritz was another good downtowner that developed a bad reputation. Of course if you wanted to go to the edge of town on east Admiral you would find the Band Box. Going a long way back the Buck Horn at Admiral & Yale was a good spot. It was a drive in that had a large outdoor stage. Singers would perform using a megaphone since P.A. systems were not yet available. You just drove up to the stage, with car windows down, and enjoyed. Another little gem was the Night Spot at about Admiral & Harvard. Small but very friendly. Of course we can't forget Cains Ballroom the home of Bob & Johnny Lee Wills. Still in operation but nothing like it was in the "40's.

Memories from Ronald E. (Ron) Owen: I lived in West Tulsa and remember the Cameo Theater, Crystal City, and taking the bus to Kress and Brown Dunkin. I was probably about 5 or 6 and in first grade, so it was probably 1948 or 1949 when I went to the Cameo Theater with my mom and Dad on talent contest night. I wanted to sing when they announced the contest. My Mom and Dad said "you can't go up there, They already have people signed up." Finally my dad said "well go on." I went up on the stage and jerked on the announcer's pant leg, and told him I wanted to sing. He asked me what I wanted to sing, and I told him "My home is in heaven." He said "I think this little boy is lost, He said his home is in heaven." I sang it and ended up with second prize, which was a free pass to the show, and a free fryer chicken at a local store. That was my claim to fame. I live in Calif. now, but will be visiting my mom in Broken Arrow in Aug. Those were wonderful times for a kid.

Memories from Jack Welsh: Hi Linda - I stumbled across your "Memory Lane" site while trying to find name of the old movie theater @ 11th & Denver. Found it. The Tower. Thanks for that. I am putting together a reunion magazine for the Tulsa Central class of '53 (reunion sch'd for Aug. 21-24, '03). Part of the mag includes photos of places around Tulsa where business/stores used to be...but are now something else or parking lots. Want to correct a couple of bits of "memory" info people have sent in. The theater on 11th St. betw. Birmingham Pl. & Columbia (near Wilson Jr. High) was the Royal. The theater on 11th & Sandusky was the Will Rogers (just like the high school out there). The old Ritz theater had a big organ that raised up from underneath the floor. I included a quiz in our reunion book on business/ store locations (match the address to the business). Had 26 of them. So many car dealers downtown back in the early 50s. All gone now. Lot of the car nameplates are also nonexistent: Crosley, DeSoto, Edsel. Frazer. Hudson, Kaiser, LaSalle, Packard, Plymouth, Studebaker, Tucker, Willys. Sears even sold a car in its stores. Called the Allstate (which was actually a Henry J. Kaiser) and it sold for $1,589. Enjoyed your site. Would enjoy exchanging old memories. My mom (who died in '95) used to manage the Tea Room at Brown-Dunkin...that was w-a-a-a-y back in time.

Memories from Curtis Reynolds: Linda, thanks for posting this site. Wow, what memories. I was reading about all those who remember the old movie theaters and the one everyone has left out was the "Pines" at the corner of Pine and Cincinnati. I actually worked there as an usher in the years 1952-1956. There was also the Cozy, the Uptown and the Strand, where Bob Steele played "B" cowboy westerns every day. We used to go to the downtown Tulsa Theatre on Sat. night for the midnight show, as we worked for the movie organization in town we got free passes, then we were off to Willie's for donuts or off to the Denver Grill for breakfast, etc. Mercy what great times, what memories. I also worked at the Skyline Drive-In Theatre on North Cincinnati during the summers. As a young ticket taker at the gate I used to let the guys hiding in the back seat floor board or in the trunk to enter. (Couldn't impede the "submarine races", you know!) It was so much fun in those days. I also worked at Meadow Gold on north Denver and remember the old Sand Springs Inter-Urban - read, "street car" line from Greenwood to Sand Springs. I used to catch it right there on Archer and Boston, where the old "Brady Hotel" building was. (My grandmother lived at Hale Station on the SS line.) And the old New Block Park swimming pool. Been there many times. Mercy so many memories. I could go on but space is limited. If anyone wishes to share memories I will be happy to oblige. If anyone wishes any more details from those 1940-50 years in Tulsa contact me at I was also the first faculty hired at TJC, now TCC, in 1970, and worked there for ten years. I know lots of folks in Tulsa I would sure love to hear from now. I am retired from the US Navy and live in Pensacola, Fl. One of the correspondents here is Effie Henson/Oldham -we graduated from Webster HS in 1956. A beautiful lady. We still keep in touch. Anyone wish to join us?

Memories from John Edwards: The Pines Theatre was on north Cincinnati at Pine Street. Ten cents for matinees. For a long time Cincinnati did not go straight through to downtown, you had to go over to Boston or Cheyenne or Main. We walked downtown from Cincinnati and Mohawk a number of times so we could go to downtown movies. My aunt was a waitress at Bishops and we would go for silver dollar pancakes and because she would show us off to all the businessmen. How about gasoline for $0.25 a gallon and cruising all night along Peoria through Brookside or up Riverside Drive? Downtown was busy and lively with the streets full of people. At Christmas it was decorated and we would visit the other aunt who worked at Seidenbach's and Brown Dunkin (vacuum tubes to send canisters of cash somewhere.....where did it go?). We had Central, Webster, Edison, Rogers, and Eastside for High Schools. Then McLain and Memorial were added for the boomers.
     Now I'm tuning in. Remember the street car to Sand Springs that ran along...Archer, I think....the street just north of the viaducts. We once rode the train from Tulsa to Oklahoma City when the train station was open and not a dump.
     As teenage boys we would hang out at Doc's poolhall under the Tulsa World, and go around the corner to eat Coney Islands. Parking was never a problem! 71st and Peoria was way out in the country and it seemed strange when Oral Roberts built the university out there.
     O.K. Second go around on some memories. The amusement park off Mohawk Boulevard was Lakeview. At Peoria and Mohawk there was an open air watermelon stand. In the summer they had yellow lights, maybe to discourage the junebugs, and watermelons floating in ice water in 55 gallon barrels cut in half.
     The Wills had a show on TV from the Cimarron Ballroom and Leon McAuliffe on the slide guitar...."Take it away, Leon!"
     At Pine and Cincinnati we had a Crown Drug with soda fountain, a Gingham Girl restaurant, and next to that was Clay's Hamburgers. 25 cents each or five for a dollar!
     On Apache and Cincinnati we had a Safeway and couple blocks east was another grocery with a giant orange ball on a pole. It was either Jitney Jungle or Piggly Wiggly or maybe both at different times. Chester's barbershop was on the corner and we'd go with my Dad to get a haircut on Saturday and listen to the men talk.
     On Cincinnati, a couple blocks from Burroughs elementary, there was the Kokomo Club. Cold beer on a hot summer today.

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