First, as a newly-turned teen in Junior High, as spooky as it might seem, my neighbor Jack (one year my junior) and I rode the city bus downtown sometimes on Saturday mornings and spent the day there. No, our parents weren't insane (I'm 57 now) — in those times, it was different.
We could go to the various hodge-podge of stores — Ben Franklins, Walgreens, Katts Drug Store (the Clara Luper sit-in site), more five-and-dime variety stores, big department stores such as John A. Brown, Rothchilds, Montgomery Ward and Kerrs. Lots of big and little clothing stores like Emmer Bros., Top Hat Haberdashery (cool name, huh?) or Streets.
Are you getting the picture? It was our version of hanging out at the mall. It had its unglamorous but exciting places, also — old pool halls, domino parlors, Army/Navy surplus stores (all up and down Sheridan and California Streets), pawn shops (if you think they have crap now, back then it was before Best Buy or WalMart) loaded with jewelry, transistor stuff, musical instruments, golf clubs, and even clocks made like hula girls (woo-hoo!).
There were cavernous book stores with walls of magazines and books — not lattés, frappés or even cherry Cokes. If you even thought about bringing drinks or food into a bookstore, you'd be "banned for LIFE" (I know there had to be a "blacklist"). Now, heck — people read the stuff free, but pay an arm and a leg for the drinks. It's 2008, and we've come a long way!!!
Now, to mention the best parts. First, back then there were nine movie theatres in downtown OKC. Five were very large, ornate, awe-strikingly beautiful old theatres where movies or stage shows had dominated in the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s. That evil spirit of Urban Renewal decimated these wonderful theatres, along with their lobbies, balconies, drapes, detailed sculptured walls and huge "David Letterman Show"-like marquees. We also watched Westerns or Elvis movies in the grubby, small movie joints.
Jack and I had our private playground roaming downtown OKC (without parental supervision) — exploring, poking our heads into places that told us real quick to retreat. Oh, yes, we saw the bums, winos and hookers, but framed it as a documentary in our minds (we couldn't end up like that — after all, we were born in the suburbs — HA!!!)
Last but not least, THE FOOD! It was everywhere in the form of soda fountains, diner counters, cafeterias, junk food places. The variety stores had aisles and aisles of penny candy, Jack's Deli had enormous sandwiches, Greens Lunch Counter had burger baskets with strawberry malts, and Anna Maude's Cafeteria had meat loaf plus a slice of the "Greatest Coconut Pie Ever to Exist on Planet Earth"!
Crash!!! Boom!!! Destroy!!! All this was whisked away with the "Curse of Urban Renewal".
Now that our downtown is coming back, WE CAN'T RUN THE DARN TROLLEYS ON TIME!!! Our tourist trade, our own people visiting, and the people who live and work downtown everyday need for the gosh-darned trolleys to JUST RUN ON TIME. We will ruin everyone's experience in OKC if their vacation or convention plans are jacked around by the trolleys being unreliable.
I'm submitting the reasoning for the "evil spirits" possessing the Oklahoma Spirit trolleys. I hope the "curse of Urban Renewal" doesn't take a shot at the boats on the canal or Oklahoma River. WET CURSES are the worst kind!!!
As things get hotter, remember to water your foundation. Oklahoma is the BEST place in the nation to buy or sell a home — with "That Real Estate Guy," of course...