What is “A Point?” One of Many EPOTM Quandaries

I’ve purchased three maps of Oklahoma since we started our project last year.

The first was my inspiration map. Resting on a rack in a 39th Expressway 7-11 minding its own business, I picked it up, counted the towns, and officially committed to the premise of what we now call “Every Point on the Map.”  I was going to have a meaningful conversation with at least one person in each of Oklahoma’s 594 town or city.

594 was the total count on my 7-11 map.

Then, sometime in January 2015 we were struggling with our GPS system in the town of Adair and I realized we didn’t have the original map. So, in order to settle upon whether or not we needed to search harder for a town we had planned on visiting, I ran into a convenience store only to be stopped dead in my tracks by a discovery. THAT map had over 600 towns and cities on it, and boasted of being an “official U.S. Postal Service representation” of Oklahoma’s incorporated cities.

I liked 594 better.

Then there was the time we had an unfortunate conversation with someone.  I think it might have been the parks and recreation professor from OSU but I’ve blocked out that memory because it inflicted pain upon my psyche.  I think he said something like, “Well, I believe there are 654 incorporated cities and towns in Oklahoma….”  Those last few words coming out of his mouth, in my mind, did the slo-mo audio thing where his voice lowers, grinding the recipient’s brains.  “Six-hun-dred-and-fif-ty-fourrrrrrrr…”

Subsequently, since I really disliked the official Postal Service map, I purchased yet another one two months ago.

As we progress through our travels I highlight the towns we have visited with yellow, pink, or whatever color I have handy.  Yesterday I was catching up on my highlighting job when I spied this message:

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And, the world became clear.

All I needed was a disclaimer for our project.  When someone asks me how many towns there are, I will simply provide them with this disclaimer:

It should be noted that the information for our project was obtained from a 7-11 purchase in 2014.  We cannot guarantee total accuracy.

That last sentence in my new disclaimer is especially salient.  For example, our map now has write-in towns:

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This little jewel of a place (the intersection and general area of McKiddyville, Box, and Corbett OK) came about after we spent an hour looking for a place we could not prove actually existed, although we knew it did.  We were looking for McKiddyville and the Lexington police dispatcher told us to simply “head three miles south, past the helicopter parked by the highway, then take a right and you’ll be there shortly.”

We drove for six miles before we all agreed there was no helicopter to be found. We then talked to a man mowing his yard, and woman who had been “celibate for 18 years because she was writing a book,” and finally ended up knocking on a door that was eventually answered by a man who had yelled, “just a minute, I need to get some clothes on” prior to speaking with us. He shared with us the history of a place called Corbett as well as Box, then we simply wrote in McKiddyville at that same spot because – honest to goodness – that was the best we could do.

In research, we call these problems “methodological flaws” or perhaps, when we’re feeling generous, “unexpected circumstances.” For our project, I’m calling them adventures.

Adventures that need a disclaimer.

Over and out, Kelly

****

_DSC0078 april EPOTM Chinese food

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We loved these little red cabins at the base of Spavinaw. I may keep using photos of them in several posts because twice just isn’t enough. ~ KMR

EPTOM Dam Run, Stop 5A: Disney – Diana Is Ready To Fish

American diners serve as the hub of any community wheel.  PJs Corner Grill in Disney is no exception.

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Purchased in 1979 from a friend, PJs owner Diana Owen has been capably running her business for 36 years. The grill stays hot from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the winter months and an incredible 7 to 11, seven days a week during the summer.

_DSC0268PJs is currently for sale because frankly, Diana is ready for a break.  She raised four children while working in the diner.  She’s likely filled, emptied and washed a million coffee pots.  Lake visitors have come and gone through 144 seasonal transitions and she or her crew have served everyone who has entered through the front door.

Including us.

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PJs was the third link in the Disney chain leading us to our discussion with Russ Hogan, owner of Hogans Off Road Park. Russ and Diana attended the same school growing up, and have known each other all their lives.  You can tell she’s a friend by the way Hogan strikes a conversation on her behalf.

“What price do you have on your business, Diana?” he asks.

“A hundred and seventy-five thousand,” she answered. “That includes my house out back too.” Diana told us later that she dreams of the time she’ll get to relax, fish and travel.

She deserves the full list, with extra relaxing thrown in for good measure.

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“That’s a good deal for anyone!” Hogan declared, looking at us as if we were prospective buyers.

But we weren’t.  We were there to have a discussion with the man himself, an evidently infamous local who’s stories don’t stop and whose life sounded like a rollercoaster ride still traveling at full speed.  Hogan delivered for the next three hours.

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He began our historical orientation with his first step into the diner, grabbed the coffee pot, poured himself a cup and kept on talking. All three members of our team were at the same time mesmerized and mollified.  He was spewing information and we weren’t even set up.

We scrambled, turned on our equipment, and caught him half-way through his second tale. Russ was talking, we were listening, shooting and scrambling, and Diana was back in the kitchen doing her thing.

_DSC0348No doubt she had heard his stories before.  No doubt she had heard everyone’s stories before.  But this was the first for us. And we can’t wait to share them.

Please come back on Thursday for our “Disney, OK – Part Two” post covering “what the GRDA DIDN’T tell us,” Hogan’s speech in court, who owns the land, who can access the land, and the lo-down on how we ended up climbing rocks and crossing streams in “The Ambulance” for two hours.

See you then.

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Russell Hogan settles in, coffee in hand, and tells us tales we couldn’t have believed. Can’t wait to share them with you.

 

 

Every Point, Part Two, Team of Three

April 10, 2015 marked the day of my last “Every Point on the Map” feature compiled by our original two-person team.  Reaching this small milestone felt good. To celebrate, I sent a text message to Rachel and April with several exclamation marks.

We have changed since our pilot run, as much by the lives we have encountered as by the information gathering and relationship building process.

Reflecting on my own personal change, I’ve noticed something different about myself compared to last year: I’m not afraid to ask people for conversations any longer.  I used to feel sheepish. I even wrote once, “I don’t want to step on their daisies.” Continue reading Every Point, Part Two, Team of Three

How to Make Redbud Jelly

Redbud blooming season has almost passed in Oklahoma, but the opportunity to make delicate, floral jelly happens every year.

These easy step by step instructions, plus a few common questions and answers should help guide you through the process easily.  Once you’re finished, stand back and admire your stock of unique gifts for friends, or delicious wares for your pantry.  Happy canning!

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RECIPE – REDBUD JELLY

3 cups of redbuds
Approx. 2 cups boiling water
2-3 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons Sure-Jel powder
2 cups sugar; 1-2 tsp. butter

1.  Gather 3 cups of fresh, new redbud blooms.  Be careful while gathering.  Honeybees like to visit the trees so you’ll have to share with them. Continue reading How to Make Redbud Jelly

EPTOM: Owasso, OK (Email Mondays)

We must have crossed into a funk zone.  That’s the only way I can explain our Owasso point on the map.

Somewhere between our visit with the Roundtable Breakfast Club in Sperry and a middle class neighborhood in Owasso, Rachel and I must have entered an unmarked Oklahoma worm hole.  It certainly felt “alien.”  We literally knocked on ten doors with not one “yes” for our conversation.

Prior to turning south into this particular area with newer homes and nicely paved streets, we had just said to each other, “We really need to sit down with a few middle class folks.  Someone we find at home, not necessarily just outside hanging around wherever we happen to be.”

As we agreed on this plan, I felt it was exactly the right thing to do. Go to a middle-class neighborhood in the middle of American.  After all, I’m a middle class individual and live in somewhat of a middle-class neighborhood.  My people, right?

“Piece of cake,” I said to myself as I walked up to the first door of ten.

Ten. Continue reading EPTOM: Owasso, OK (Email Mondays)

Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.