My last time in OKC was as a 4th grade student where I attended Tinker Elementary School the first year it opened.
We lived in the base housing which I fully expected to have been bulldozed and replaced all these years later, but sure enough, the exact housing unit we lived in was still standing in on McNickle Drive.
We drove by old haunts like the base theater where my brother Tim once made a humorous scene. We were there to see Big Jake but as a trailer for a movie about a big grizzly bear played, at just the appropriate moment, my brother yelled out, “It’s John Wayne himself!” To a 4th grader, that is comedic genius and the crowd seemed to agree offering generous laughter and hooting.
There was a creek full of red dirt and muddy water that was just a short walk (maybe a block or two at the most) from our house that we kids played in – making fishing lines from sewing thread and safety pins with hunks of bread or baloney as bait. Crawdads were plentiful since we always tossed them back in. Now, the small stream is fenced off. There wouldn’t be enough chlorine or lifeguards to keep today’s youth safe in a creek, so it’s best to just lock it up and offer up some video games or Nickelodeon instead.
People who experience an entire childhood in the same place may not feel the same way when they return home, but my early childhood as a military brat meant that we moved several times before I made it to middle school. I only have a one or two year window of memories for particular places and what I have found is that when you return, the places are the same, but they are just so much closer together. The distances from the house to the creek to the school to the theatre to the church to the park now seem easily within walking distance. Back then, it felt like miles; but that didn’t stop us.
We made reservations at the Hampton Inn in Bricktown and I have to tell you, I was thinking $149 a night plus another $8.00 for parking was a bit steep. On the phone, the guy asked if we were going to attend the baseball game and of course, I had no idea what he was talking about.
When we checked into the room and opened the window, suddenly it all made sense! What a view. Friday and Saturday nights, once we were done seeing the sites, we sat there and watched baseball between the OKC Redhawks and the Albuquerque Isotopes and the fireworks show that followed. I’m no huge baseball fan, but seriously, when your hotel room feels like you are in the stands, you can’t help but enjoy it.
By the way, not more than a few blocks from the AT&T Bricktown Ballpark is the Ford Center where the Oklahoma City Thunder play. Now imagine this, the folks from OKC borrowed a really good idea from the good people in San Antonio and built a little river walk through the area. Add in a whole load of restaurants, bars and places to shop along with office buildings, hotels and condos, and you have got an extremely revived tourist/business district.
It makes me sick that in San Antonio, we have a minor league baseball park built in the middle of an area that has only one or two Ice Houses and a bunch of dilapidated, tagged up homes. There is literally nothing to do before or after a game. Ditto for the AT&T Center where the Spurs play. I’ve got an idea; let’s build an arena AWAY from the tourist district where all the people are in hotels and shopping and eating at restaurants. Seeing how common sense the Bricktown layout was really made me think about how silly the San Antonio layout is. In fairness, our river walk is much bigger, better and a lot more crowded, but still, kudos to the people behind Bricktown.
One of the more artsy things was this little gem of a sculpture. Residents of San Antonio may wonder if there is a Mexican Consulate in OKC as well. Now that's what I call friendship!
There were other interesting views in the form of artistic buffalo scattered about the city as well. This reminded us of when San Antonio had all those painted cows around the city. There are plenty more and I invite you to check out all the pictures over on the Flickr page.
We went to see several different things which I will write about separately in the next few days including a visit to the National Cowboy and Western Museum, Pops on Route 66, and a memorial to the victims of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing. We also had some vittles at Earl's Rib Palace and Toby Keiths'. In the mean time, you might enjoy a few happy snaps I took of the Bricktown area, again over on the Flickr page.
I owe a big apology to regular reader RB. He and his wife and chillin's are there in OKC and like a total jerk I didn't as much as give him a poke (on Facebook) while we were there. While I readily confess to being an unsocial recluse by nature, Bob is no stranger. Next time; beer on me. Preferably, in me.