Day 3: June 12, 2004
A Day at the Festival



I'm on the ninth floor of the Adam's Mark which has a nice little park beside it. There are free and frequent shuttles but I decided to walk to the festival area on my first outing. The main festival area is in the historic Brady Village area about three blocks from the hotel. One advantage of walking was that I passed through (or possibly over) Tulsa's original 1882 business center.

One of my first stops was at one of the festival's two stages which were filled with a real variety of performers throughout the day. I thought that listening to live performances of songs from Buenger Dickson's Ribbon of Time CD was a good way to start things off. The Native American dancers who performed at last light's dinner were there as were a large group from Discoveryland, the "National Home" of the musical, Oklahoma. Of course, no one should be surprised that a Route 66 Festival held in Oklahoma would get a visit from Will Rogers or at least someone impersonating him. Some major acts were scheduled for the evening but I was safely back at the hotel by then.

Canadian Brian McKay is currently traveling Route 66 in a restored 1930 Nash. I had learned of Brian's trip just before I left home and felt that I might see him somewhere along the way. Brian sat at the table next to mine at the Steinbeck dinner but my first glimpse of the car was when it pulled onto the street in order to move to a more central location. I later stopped by the car and really enjoyed chatting with Brian in the shade of a near by building. It might not be what most people think of as restored but this car is meticulously restored and accessorized to the appearance it might have presented on a mid-1930s move down the Mother Road to California. He even has a set of 1937 license plates from all eight Route 66 states which he is mounting as he crosses each state. In Tulsa, the Kansas plate remains in place since, as Brian says, "It's such a small part of 66 and deserves more time." Mechanically, the car is in much better condition than it would have been on any real recession era relocation or even when it was brand new.

The last shot is of Brian talking with Texans Larry & Ann who came to the festival in a T-Bucket roadster. Brian has a Nash hotrod roadster back in British Columbia and may someday repeat the Route 66 trip in that. He thinks his wife, who supports the Nash outing from the comfort of home, might join him in that. He is keeping audio notes on a tape recorder but is otherwise simply enjoying the trip without being tied to a journal. Even so, occasional progress reports appear at along with some background information on the car and trip.

The free shuttle service included transportation to two of Tulsa's architectural treasures. I visited the Mayo Hotel first. After being closed for several years, the building is now owned by the city and it is starting to come back to life. The large open lobby area is often rented for banquets and such and a couple of offices are operating on the first floor. The hotel will be a work in progress for quite some time with the next step being preparing the second floor for use; primarily as office space.

A downstairs area was filled with old Tulsa photographs and staffed by a fellow who knew everything about, not only the photos, but Tulsa history in general. I listened as he answered various questions with ease and in detail but he went off to help solve some mystery with a photograph being displayed upstairs before I learned his name. Whoever he is, he is quite an asset to the city.

ADDENDUM: While at the 2005 festival in San Bernardino, I learned from Marian Clark, that the gentleman at the Mayo was Beryl Ford. Beryl is a retired structural engineer, a life long resident of the Tulsa area, and a virtually inexhaustible source of local history.

Another shuttle carried visitors to the Boston Street Methodist Church. This building was designed by a female Quaker who studied Methodist symbolism for several months before submitting her unusual design. It was completed in 1929 and faced some real challenges when the stock market crashed that same year. But it survived and is now an extremely strong church and a unique Tulsa landmark.

In the Artists, Authors, and Collectors area, I snapped a shot of Scott Piotrowski hard at work with Ken Turmel in the background. Ken's unique Postmarket offers a little different way to view travel in the US. Scott lives in LA and is expert on the west end of 66 with a great guide book to the area. "Finding the End of the Mother Road" can be found at 6 Productions. Photographer Russell Olsen was there with some great prints along with his recent completed book. That book, "Route 66 Lost and Found", features a number of old Route 66 scenes coupled with Russell's recent photos of the same locations. I first met Russell last June when we were the only two living humans in Glen Rio, TX. Russell was working. I was just passing through.

I tried taking some flashless pictures of Bob Waldmire at last night's dinner but ended up with blurs. Much the same things happened when I tried to capture the latest Steinbeck winner with his award. Maybe that's just Bob's energy. Anyway, I did manage to get the award itself in focus.

Route 66? Festival? There must be some neat cars around somewhere. Indeed there were. In fact, there was a one day Corvair show at a separate site that I passed twice on the shuttle but never quite got to. Of course, that yellow Mustang is the one that Bob Waldmire just completed a route long journey in and I even have a picture of Bob that is not entirely out of focus.

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