Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I've Been Riding, but the Blog Got Dropped

Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma
May has been a busy month for me, Gentle Readers of This Blog.  I'm out riding the bike, but getting to the blog and up-loading the photos has been something I mean to get around too -- but I just get busy.  I went to Tulsa for an extended Mother's Day visit.  I'm glad too because I've been feeling pretty burned out and need to get outta town.

Tulsa just keeps getting better and better every time I visit.  I left there in the 1980 because there was nothing there for me--very conservative and narrow-minded people.  If you were different in any way, people looked at you with suspicion.  Instead of playing baseball or football, I played soccer.  Instead of being a stoner or party animal, I was a fencer.  When I got into high school, a lot of my friends were from Viet Nam -- newly arrived.  I was on the first unofficial soccer team in high school, and half of the guys were Vietnamese.  Great athletes and even better students!  I also found a place on the Tulsa YMCA Fencing Team.  Mostly a mixture of attorneys, graduate students, ballet dancers, and anthropologists--I was young and very impressionable--I also learned a mixture of French and Italian as the team was international, and often my lesson were in French, and after Friday Night Practice, we adjourned to a local pizza place near TU (University of Tulsa) which was more or less an international student hang-out--and drank beer.  I had a dear friend from Ireland, Lorcan Crosgrove, just a few years older than me (I was the baby of the bunch) that made me laugh until I cried.  I miss him terribly - he was killed in a plane crash in all places, Tucson - a few years before I moved there back in 1999. 

We frequented Arnies Bar, which you see in photo above.  Its location was on 15th Street and its since moved to the Blue Dome District.  But the sign above is the original...  Lorcan's brother owned the bar for awhile after Arnie died.

Woody Guthrie Archive and Museum, in Tulsa
 So what I'm doing is riding from my Mom's house (where I grew up) and following the River Park to the old rail line, now named Osage Spirit Trail -- I got some intel from a local bike shop -- and I'll ride about 50 miles round-trip.  I didn't go into the Woody Guthrie Museum; it just opened a few weeks before the photo.  You know while I was there taking the photo for you, mes amis, I actually had some tourists (I guess they were) ask me who Woody Guthrie was -- I was like, "Are you kidding?'

University of Tulsa McFarlin Library, circa 1897
University of Tulsa, or TU.  At first it was Kendal College, and then TU beginning in 1904.  I lived in the old TU neighborhoods for a few years when I was out of high school.  The University bought up a lot of those old houses and razed them for space -- new basketball arenas, etc.

Grandparent's house and my Father's childhood home - Tulsa, Oklahoma
My Grandparents moved to Tulsa in 1920 after they were first married.  The lived in a very little house next door to the one above.  When the owner of this house was moving for a new job, he sold this one to my Grandpa at very good deal.  I remember this house vividly as we spent a lot of time here as kids.  The pine tree is well over 100 years old, and I remember my Grandfather taking extremely good care to insure it stayed free of disease and damage.  I'm glad to see its still hanging on!

Osage Spirit Trail, which was old rail line through Tulsa Town
 This trail I'm on is off the main River Parks Trail, and I was told I could take it all the way to Skiatook, about 25 miles North.  It starts by going through some of the most affluent neighborhoods in Tulsa -- the old Oil Men's homes.  The it went through North Tulsa, which is where Black Tulsa loomed as a place never to go -- EVER!  Tulsa was a very segregated city even when I was growing up.  We were always told never to go to the North Side.  I think that was kind of sad because as I rode through North Tulsa, everyone was friendly and waved as the ran or rode by me.  I'd like to think that that way of thinking (just fear of not knowing anything about the people or the places on the North Side) has changed.

Sperry, Oklahoma
 I have to tell you, Gentle Readers, that in all my life I have never set foot in Sperry, Oklahoma.  I really had no clue where it was or how big.  As you can see, it is small -- that's main street.  With the bike trail going through, things looked improved.  You can stop and get a sandwich or a pop.  Also, the people I came across were very nice and they waved as I rode through town.

Through the Oil Patch and on to Skaitook, Oklahoma
 I'm on my way to Skiatook, and in this photo, I meet that rider up ahead, and we rode back together to Tulsa.  His name was Mike - we were the same age (51) and like me, he was visiting Mom.  He lived in Dallas, and like me, was pretty impressed with the bike trails.  I went to Edison HS and he went to Hale HS, so we hadn't grown up in Tulsa that far apart.  It was nice to have a tailwind for the ride home too!

Cheers!  Bruce

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