05 September 2005

Monday Menagerie XIV

PyroManiac devotes Monday space to esoteric and offbeat things, in the hope that these will supply learning experiences for us all.

Ten things I love about Tulsa

Dan Paden correctly pointed out that my recent post about Tulsa was far too negative. Aside from the wacky charismatic strain in the religious culture of Tulsa, I actually love the city. I officially left there when I went to college in 1972 and have never resided in Tulsa for more than 3 months at a time since then. I've now lived three times longer in California than I ever lived in Oklahoma. But I still refer to Tulsa as my hometown, and I love it there. Here are my ten favorite things about Tulsa (in mostly random order):

  1. My parents and siblings and a lot of my nieces and nephews all live in Tulsa, or within a hour's drive. It's a great place for a family reunion.
  2. It's well-nigh impossible to get lost in Tulsa. Except for the immediate downtown area (which was laid out to follow some ancient diagonal railroad tracks), virtually all the streets in Tulsa run straight north-south and east-west. East-west streets are all numbered in order (1st, 2nd, 3rd street, etc.). Major thoroughfares all end in "1" (11th, 21st, 31st, etc.) and are exactly a mile apart. North-south streets are called "avenues" and are named in alphabetical order, with Main Street at the center of downtown. Avenues east of Main Street are named for cities east of Tulsa (Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, Elgin, etc.). Those west of Main are named for western cities (Boulder, Cheyenne, Denver, Elwood, Frisco, etc.). Again, all major thoroughfares are one mile apart, and once you learn the major avenues (Peoria, Lewis, Harvard, Yale, and Memorial), you can find any address. An address like 2100 S. Yale is found at 21st and Yale (across from the fairgrounds). In less than an hour, you can learn the whole grid, and then you can easily find your way from anywhere to anywhere.
  3. Speaking of the fairgrounds, the Tulsa State Fair is the city's largest annual event and is one of the truly great state fairs in the nation. The fairgrounds host a fine Triple-A baseball stadium, a great stock-car racetrack, one of the largest display areas under a single roof, the best midway I ever squandered money on in my youth, and—
  4. The Golden Driller, a big statue of an oil-field worker (made, I believe, from chicken wire and stucco) who used to be painted dull gold, but these days is more of a mustard color.
  5. Next door to the fairgrounds is Bell's Amusement Park, one of the best compact family amusement parks anywhere.
  6. Empire Roofing Company was my first employer, and the place where (while working 12-hour days in the wake of a devastating tornado in May 1971) I realized that construction work was not what the Lord was calling me to do. My father helped build this company into one of the finest and most respected roofing companies in Oklahoma, and now my brother, Cliff, is the company president. When I worked there in the late 60s and early 70s, company trucks were easily recognized around town by their bright orange color. Cliff has toned the colors down a bit, I believe.
  7. Tulsa International Airport, at least 45 years old, is nonetheless clean, modern-looking, convenient, never too busy, and as pleasant as an airport can be. It now sports a centralized security-clearance area that's as fast and friendly as any I have ever been through. The scanner caught Darlene accidentally smuggling her best embroidery scissors aboard in her carry-on bag, and instead of confiscating them, the staff actually helped her mail them home to herself.
  8. The restaurant scene. Dan Paden mentioned BBQ, especially Latimer's. There's no shortage of great BBQ places in Tulsa, and some of the best, including Latimer's, are north of Admiral. Tulsa also has some great franchise restaurants. My personal favorite is Cheddars. I noticed on my recent visit that Casa Bonita is still operating. When I lived there, it was a great, fun, well-decorated place with a killer Mexican buffet. There are too many other great restaurants in Tulsa to even try to give a complete list here.
  9. Nathan Hale High School. Sadly, the school is not what it was in the glory days when it was situated on the city's growing edge and the football team was usually in the state's top ten. But I still have an affinity for Hale. I spent my years there in the marching band—the Hale Marching Hundred. Hale's most illustrious alumni include Gary Busey and Mary Kay Place.
  10. Music. Tulsa is musically diverse. The population of 400,000 manages to support a full-time symphony orchestra, an opera company, and a ballet. Country music legend Roy Clark lived in Tulsa at the height of his career. Leon Russell, Phil Driscoll, and Anita Bryant are all products of Tulsa. Driscoll was first trumpet in The Young Tulsans, a concert and marching band I was also a member of during my high school years. My own love for classical music germinated during my high school years in Tulsa, and it's one of the few active interests I have maintained for nearly 40 years.

I didn't even mention Route 66, the Port of Catoosa, Bama pies, the kitschy architecture at Oral Roberts University, and several other things I love about Tulsa. Obviously my roots there go deep, and despite all my concerns about the spiritual climate in Tulsa, it's where I came to a saving knowledge of Christ in April of 1971. The city will always have a special place in my heart.

Phil's signature


Gunner said...

Thanks for the memories, Phil. Tornado-siren testing at noon on sunny Wednesday's was also a highlight growing up in Sand Springs.

Matthew said...


:) But seriously, Tulsa's a fine town.

Chris Freeland said...

Matthew, I'm surprised to see anyone from Norman peeking out of their fox holes so early. You know, the thing that got me out of bed this morning was the knowledge that, at least for the next week, Baylor is ahead of the Sooners in the Big 12 standings. (My Cowboys too...)

Phil, you left out Coney Islander, the only place west of Ohio I know where you can get Skyline chili on a hot dog.

GeneMBridges said...

>>>>There's no shortage of great BBQ places in Tulsa

Yes there is. I am from NC, and I know that there is no bbq outside the borders of this great state, and the only valid form for bbq is Lexington style bbq, not that vinegared up stuff Down East from here.

Thou Heretick! I am now offended by this. This is truly shocking, disgusting, grief-inducing, and horror provoking. I am truly at a loss for words. It is now patently obvious that Phil Johnson not only supports violence against women, but he is clearly practicing regionalism, as evidenced by his belief that Tulsa has no shortage of "good bbq!" It should be obvious that he regards all other bbq's as inferior. I expected better words from you, Phil, on today, this most glorious of days, set aside to magnify the proletariat. May God have mercy on your soul, Phil Johnson! What's next, a comic book cover depicting the superiority of OK bbq? Yes, yes, I tell you, this is scandalous, truly scandalous!


TEX said...


Thanks for the walk down memory lane. It brought back lots of good memories for me as I was a Tulsan from 3rd grade through 10th grade (kendall Elementary...had to walk across the TU campus everyday to get to and from school...lived on 7th and Harvard in those days; Woodrow Wilson Jr. High and was supposed to go to Will Rogers High School, but applied for the magnet school program and went to Booker T Washington High School...great school!) I'm really a Texas at heart and always will be, but I have plenty of good memories from Tulsa, so I really enjoyed your post today. Thanks for the memories of Bells, the fair and fair grounds etc. I don't suppose they had ice skating at the williams center when you were there did they? How about the pro soccer team (the drillers I think)...used to watch the games all the time at skelly stadium. I didn't get to Tulsa until 3 years after you left for college, but my mom and step dad still live in Tulsa and I have other scattered relatives around the state of Oklahoma (OKC, Poteau, Muskogee etc.)
Chris freeland: Thank you so much for reminding me of Coney Island! We used to eat there almost every Sunday after church...or at Monterrey House. Great Tasting memories.
I think I'm going to go get something to eat!

Steve said...

Sad to say, the Great Pacific Northwest has a severe shortage of good BBQ restaurants. Thankfully, I'm sent to Texas frequently on business, where my hosts have taken me to some outstanding BBQ houses. Now I'll have to concoct a creative excuse to make a side trip to Tulsa...

Savage Baptist said...

I find myself very satisfied. A couple of quick points for those interested:
The soccer team, in its heyday, was the Roughnecks. Currently, Tulsa has three professional teams worth watching: The Drillers (double-A baseball), the Talons (arena football)and the Oilers (hockey).

I know North Carolinans love their pulled pork, but there is really no better brisket than that served here in Tulsa. And then there're the four chickens that I'm hickory-smoking in the backyard right now--I don't think you'll find much better BBQ than that anywhere. Oklahoma is the home of true barbecue mastery.:)

Diane R said...

I realize this might be nitpicking, but it drives me batty when people confuse Pentecostals with the crazy Charismatic crowd.

The Word of Faithers in Tulsa as well as Oral Roberts are Pentecostal.

For the Charismatic folks, you will need to drive north to KC, MO or to anywhere in Florida..:)

Jeremy Weaver said...

What?! Phil Johnson took a trip to Tulsa and no natural disasters or terrorists or plane crashes happened there???
I guess it's true, "A prophet has no honor in his own hometown."

Dinsdale said...


Those Bama Pies look mighty good! If you look close, I think one of those sweet old ladies might be snaggin' one of those pastries for the car ride home.

And that mexican buffet. I've never heard of such a thing. I may visit Tulsa just to "all I can eat" me some nachos and burritos. There seems to be a "Mexican-tooth" in the Johnson family. I've noticed that Pecadillo writes frequently of his love for all things mexican. What gives?

Matthew said...

Mr. Freeland, I was quite impressed with OSU defeating that fierce D-II school by such a wide margin. ;)

Moreover, the success/failures of our local collegiate team have little to do with my day-to-day activites. Whether OU wins or loses, I am about the LORD's work.

"...all is vanity..."

Chris Freeland said...

dinsdale, you don't have to drive as far as Tulsa for the Mexican Buffet. There's a Casa Bonita in Denver, which is actually better than the one in Tulsa. (They have cliff divers, Tulsa doesn't)

Matthew, they were Division Iaa, actually, but I understand the mistake. I'm sure sorry you're so busy with the "Lord's work" that you don't have time to lighten up and enjoy some of the things God's allowed us to enjoy on earth. Solomon would have.

Go, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.

ScoobyDrew said...


Instead of insulting a brother, you should live out 1 Peter 4:8: "Above all love each other deeply" You need to put Christ and your brother ahead of athletics. Your childish replies reveal your true heart. Why don't you get back into the Word of God, and start applying it in your life.


Very crazy your blog, man!

geoffrobinson said...

They have both country and Western.

Silens Vox said...

Phil, just curious. Is that you posing under the mustard man?

Chris Freeland said...

Lighten up Scooby Doo. It was a joke. And it wasn't directed at you. I'm sure the person to whom it was directed understood it as such, since it was a response to his veiled joke. If matthew is offended, I'm sure he'll email me and let me know.

Geez Phil, people seem to visit your blog with their fingers on the trigger ready to fire. What is it about you that brings out that side in all of us?

Chris Freeland said...

Sorry. That should have been directed towards Scooby Drew, not Scooby Doo. My bad.

Bob Edwards said...

The creature below the Golden Driller is not Phil but the Roustabird, "a filthy oil drilling penguin in overalls and a hard hat." Apparently something to do with fund raising for the Tulsa Zoo.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I'm the only one out of this whole bunch who's going to heaven anyway.:-)

Phil Johnson said...


By now, you should know better than to use humor on my blog. There are people watching on the periphery of this place who can quite easily get seriously injured if you're the least bit wry, mischievous, sarcastic, ironic, sardonic, or (heaven forbid) derisive.

Let me try to draw a timely parallel for you:

Intellectually, PyroManiac is what you might call "a low-lying community." (I'd like to deny that, but let's be completely honest.) Posting a sarcastic remark or a caricature of any kind is the psychological equivalent to breaching the levy that holds the waters of post-modernism at bay.

I BEG you: don't do it again.

Habitans in Sicco said...


I'd like to point out that Doug Burtt, who threw the original hissy fit last week over one of your early comic-book parodies because he found it demeaning to Japanese people, just made a post over at the BHT that purposely demeans all Canadians. He may protest that he was only "joking," but I, for one, do NOT find the "joke" funny. As an occasional visitor to Canada who has many dear friends there, I was deeply and quite painfully hurt by it.

I am also so disturbed and disappointed by the hypocrisy of Mr. Burtt that I will never again be able to respect anything he writes. He started a big fight here last week because of your perceived slight to Asians. Yet HE has no hesitation whatsoever about mocking our dear brothers and sisters to the north.

Didn't Burtt used to be a Calvinist or something? If so, here's one just more reason to hate Calvinism. No wonder people are fed up with Reformed theology!

I would have gone to the BHT to throw a hissy about all this, but they don't permit non-members to make any comments, so I have exported my hissy to Pyromaniac. Your blog already seems to be a magnet for barmy folk who are loaded and cocked. So this seemed like it was as good a place as any to lodge my complaint.

Matthew said...

For what it's worth... I am not offended and can all-the-more appreciate Mr. Freeland's sentiment in the spirit of the OU/OSU rivalry that permeates this state like a gaseous stench.

All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.

Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.

Matthew said...

Thanks also to you, Mr. Drew.

Paul said...

All very interesting, Phil... but I'm not sure how anyone could count a wire and stucco "Golden Driller" as something they love? Maybe I am just too Canadian?