Archive for June, 2008

Pioneering Spirit Alive and Well (most of the time)

June 30, 2008

 Certainly, Its been quite slow around here. I had the pleasure of speaking to a small group of writers whom were brought in by the Oklahoma Tourism Department on Friday. It was quite a sight to have 7 women sitting under the patio safe from the rainy weather eating my grandmother’s peach cobbler recipe served up by Paul (my 7 yr old) while listening to me tell the story of the Rock Cafe. My first question to the ladies were had they ever had a stop like this. Immediatly, I got a big No!  It was really hard to talk about the Rock Cafe history then tieing up with the fate of the fire and then lift their spirits to understand that this is not the end of the story.  One of the ladies rushed to ask the question if I felt like a pioneer woman. I was quick to answer – surprisingly – YES!  What a relief to be reminded of my heritage. Another woman, Diane Lebow, PH.D., asked if I thought that my Chickasaw Indian heritage also played a role in my NEVER GIVE UP SPIRIT!  Again the answer is YES!  My mothers family came to Oklahoma during the Land Run and homesteaded here.  Often, when I watch any movie about the hardships of this time, I’m sure these people had lost all their marbles for never giving up and staying through all the difficulties of making a home out of nothing but the land. My fathers mother was full blooded Chickasaw Indian. She walked the Trail of Tears. She married a man who was half Irish and half Cherokee. He hid the Indian side of his heritage. My grandmother was proud of her Chickasaw roots. She was smart enough to sign the Indian roles which has helped me through the years. But her real gift to me was her strength. The strenght to work hard, never feel sorry for yourself, believe you can get through anything, and be proud of who you are and where you’ve been.


Emma Finley, pictured above, was a strong Chickasaw Indian who was proud of her heritage and her family.  She lived to be over 90 years old and outlived her husband who was also 90 before he passed.

The past few weeks have been a very slow process with the cleanup and the paperwork end of the Rock and through it all I’ve had times when I wonder if it isn’t smart to run away to an easier path. The way I felt some of these pioneer and Indian people of Oklahoma should have done when I listen to the hardships they endured. Quickly, the idea passes and I pick up my shovel and continue to literally dig my way back from the devastation that has become my life. I feel the strength of the women in my past and remember their struggles and think of the bright future that I can represent when this short period of my life is over. Also, I feel the strength of this great American Road that also represented that early pioneering spirit we had as Americans. This Route was literally a series of connections of cattle drive and stagecoach trails that helped shaped America and brought my forefathers to this great state to be Pioneers of a New Frontier. For this reason, I feel tied to keep this piece of tradition alive to represent what Oklahomans have come to be known for; stong-dedicated-trustworthy-friendly people whom anyone who pauses to meet us can be inspired to follow their own dreams!!


The Gals and the Thomas Men!!

June 17, 2008

Saturday evening was another work day at the Rock.Thanks to Beverly who is awesome. She always knows what I will ask for and what I won’t ask for. Help is one of those. She organized a work day. Bev is someone who I would not want to live without in my life. She is the best of friends. I called her my sudo best friend for years. I now only refer to her as my BEST FRIEND and lots of time I claim her as my sister. ANYWAYS> Audra, Sommer, and Kelsie are friends of the Rock who have helped out through their teen years and represent the best of youth. They came up and helped clean out a nasty smelly building and did it with smiles on their faces. I’m so proud to have a community of teens who care about the tragedys of the town and will donate their time and money to help.  These girls even stopped by Sonic and brought Sweet Tea for everyone. Which was super yummy!!

The gals hard at work!!

Sommer trying to keep the place tidy. She is using a broom that has been with us forever. The funny thing is I won’t throw anything away. I buy brooms at Dollar store, the old corn broom style. It sweeps the old porous concrete the best and the older brooms move to the kitchen because they have only the coarse part of the top of the broom. Everyone makes fun of them but they work really well on a greasy dirty floor. Plus they is CHEAP.  So everyone was hoping this one would have burnt up. But it didn’t and I’ve been using it. Bev always tells me to get on my broom and fly home when I’m being ugly. So shoot, maybe it is a magical broom. It didn’t burn up!!!

This is Audra loving her/my hardhat. The girls in perfect teeny style took lots of goofy pics with their cleaning gear. It was fun to watch. Kelsie of course didn’t  being the coolest of us all.

NOW to the THOMAS MEN!! 2/3 of the Thomas men showed up to work on Saturday. Martin and Matt! Scotty to Hotty was of course busy with his gal. Thanks Scotty and Sam!! Next time we are all gonna watch you work. JP JP!!


Martin is like a Bull in a China Shop. OMG!! He scared me to death all evening. Bev assured me that God protects idiots and drunks.(note:Martin is neither) I was nervous the whole time he was up at the Rock. When it was said and done, I was very happy with this unsafe but productive method. Not many men have showed up and gotten dirty and obviously this one knows how to clean up a site. The best part of the night was when we disassembled the grill and took it to safety. I can’t wait to get this thing refurbished. If anyone out there knows people capable of cleaning this please contact me.  Anyway these two men got most of the kitchen equipment out and it was a very productive work day because of them. Matt is Bev and Martins son and is a very good cook. He is an even better friend. Matt would do anything to help out a friend. In my case, I consider myself his 2nd mom although he doesn’t hug me I do believe he listens to me. Thats all you can ask from your teens. I love him like my own children and am so glad to have the Thomas family in my life. They have all gone to work at Grannies. A new restaurant in town. If anyone has the chance to get over there you know you’ll have good service.

 Matt came up with the brilliant idea to stand in big dumpster to carry our buckets of debris into the middle of the trash can. He reminded me of that guy on the other side of the fence in the sitcom Raymond.

Thanks to Bev and Emily who keep finding ways to get help to the Rock and speeding up the process to a clean and safe Rock Cafe. Emily also came down to help on Saturday and she has certainly proven herself invalueable to this process.

Saturday was a great day! Exhausting but so much fun. I have recieved lots of mail and appreciate all the gifts and it does give me the boost needed to keep pushing forward. I hope this event can really inspire others to never give up. The Welchs and Thomas certainly won’t give up on getting our “Day in Paradise” back.


SuperHeros to the Rescue!!

June 17, 2008

Saturday was a great day. Early in the morning Alexis and I made Homemade Lemonade, Sweet Tea, Peach Cobbler, and Bread Pudding. It felt so good to be cooking again and wondering how much to cook would there be any customers to eat them and so on. It made my mind reel to be “Back in Business” even if it was for a Cheer Fundraiser. It took us from 9am to 1pm to get set up in front of the Rock Cafe. I forgot to take a picture of our set up. But I was happy with our business, although it was a slow day. It felt good to be out in front of the cafe trying to drag customers over. It reminded me of very early years when I was first getting started and I’d run outside to convince people to not just slow down for a picture but to give us a shot. Funny because at that time I couldn’t cook. But the customers always left satisfied and full of a big heaping bowl of Route 66 hospitality. And I didn’t even know what I’d done. I may spend more time up at the Rock on different occasions with my bowls of peach cobbler and bread pudding and shoot the breeze with the tourists.

While we were there, we had the Italian Superheros stop by and it was so much fun. The kids loved it. And I believe the superheros did as well. These guys seem to be doing some sort of spoofy film. I signed no releases so not sure what they are planning with the video and pics they took. But there was a lot  of interaction between the kids and the superheros. It was so much fun. BUT HOT. They ate some peach cobbler and seemed to really enjoy themselves.

I’m asked everyday at the Rock (when it was open) how I’m doing, my saying is its “ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE”. This day which was hard and hot for very little money but very soul satisfying was certainly paradise and felt good. It made my heart happy and sad. I can’t wait to get back to the day to day at the Rock because you never really know what to expect from each day and isn’t that a wonderful way to wake up and end a day of reflection about the wonder of what comes down this road.

Long live the superpowers of this road and its people who travel and love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hard Times call for Hard Hats!!!

June 12, 2008

These hard hats were sent to us through Emily Priddy from Mike, a friend of Route 66. After reading the blog, he saw we were in need of hard hats and promptly mailed us additional hats (6 in total). Alexis, Paul, and I decided we would decorate our hard hats! This is so great as we are having a cleaning crew come Sunday evening.  Several of our Stroud teenagers will be helping to clean out the Rock.  We have a total of 9 hard hats with the two Emily and Ron donated and the 1 my mom found at a garage sale. Today we removed several Rock and the hats were awesome.


We created an assembly line to remove the rocks. We made piles of big rock, small rock, and mortar. Ha we aren’t sure why we are keeping mortar but thought people may like to have a piece of it since we intend to mortar back our life here. 

Casey Longacre, my nephew, was my guest help today. Paul was showing him around the site and how things operate.

This is Lex taking a break and doin what teens do. The funny thing about today is that Alexis and I have been working so much up here that when we got ready to go to the site today we both had long socks on. Small pieces of debris was getting into our shoes and it was very painful. So we both just laughed today when we had not discussed with each other but we both had big ugly socks on. Mine were halloween themed and hers were all the way above her knees.

It seems I end all of these with a Thank You. But goodness it seems that mankind has certainly come to our rescue and I couldn’t be more thankful for it. I can’t wait to make the biggest thank you dinner ever and have everyone over for a big ole’ heaping bowl of yummy gratitude.

Saturday’s Pink Lemonade Stand

June 12, 2008

We love our small school system in Stroud and our children seem to excell here. They both are very active in sports and academics. The adminstrators and teachers are very active in knowing your children. Alexis is a Stroud Middle School cheerleader something I support but with much guideance on how to handle a school career. Meaning not to place too much in the importance of cheerleading but also put your all into the sport if you choose to do it. So without boring you with the long version of that story, Alexis usually pays for her uniforms and such with the money she earns at the Rock Cafe. This year she hasn’t had the ability to completely pay off her cheer debt. HA

We’ve decided that for the next two Saturdays and maybe some in between she will have somewhat of a pink lemonade stand with maybe some cobbler or bread pudding set up at the Rock for tourists to have a cold drink and speak to us about the rebuilding. Its very inpromptu and shouldn’t be anything people should run over to do. But we thought it would be one way for her to earn her camp money.


Small Business – Corporate Business

June 12, 2008

Meet Joel.  He is my food supplier for all the wonderful meals we make at the Rock. He sells for Ben E. Keith. (Small Paul Welch took this picture. Its very well done for a 7 year old)  For insurance purposes, he was kind enough to bring by all my reciepts for May.  Since the originals burned in the fire. Joel was on my short list of phone calls the night of the fire.  We had a food truck coming the next day and I wanted to be sure it was canceled since there would be no reason for the delivery. I was able to make this phone call late late at night because Joel as become part of our Rock Cafe family.  He has been exposed to Beverly and I’s bad tempers when things don’t go well getting our food orders.  He has very funny sayings like “mayday” and “o that didn’t go very smurfy” that seems to do one of two things;make us laugh or more mad. The point of this entry is that so many people try to divide small business from corporate business. I’ve always believed there is room in the world for both. I hope that anyone who operates a small business can learn how to use the corporate world to their business’ benefit. Certainly, in our case we have been able to take utilize services offered from our corporations. Walmart, Target, Ben E Keith, Home Depot, Sears, Hot Topic(we had a cool sticker on our bathroom door from there), Tyson, McCormick,Disney-Pixar and so many many others have all had a hand in making my small cafe a success for different reasons. I would just like to take this time to say thanks to Joel and all the others who have chosen to work for corporations but have also injected their own moral values and personalites making me feel like an important buyer, even though I am only a small piece of the pie.


It takes a village!!

June 8, 2008

This is an older picture of a trip that was taken during a trip to Washington DC. It was a voyage to let the government know how much we appreciate their support of Route 66. Its road, business, and landmarks. It certainly makes me proud to be American. Despite all of our important issues, America has found a way to support our history as it is known through Route 66. It also makes me proud to be a part of that in a small way. I have always considered The Rock Cafe belonging to the bigger picture rather than just its ownership to my family. Being one of the first to recieve a matching grant to refurbish the Rock, it was even more clear to me that the Rock was belonged to all Americans and those who come to visit from all around the world. Its difficult to explain this, but I didn’t shed a single tear until I made the phone call to Kaisa of the National Park Service in New Mexico and told her the news and to ask some questions. It was the feeling of failure to take care of Americas investment toward saving this landmark that became overwhelming to me. I know that unexplainable things happen but to not be able to answer why this would happen and then express my desire to rebuild this monument that had been entrusted to me was too much for me to handle. 

So my message today is that not only are we all invested in this project. So is the state and national governments.  My gratitude for their expertise is more than I can express. Melvena, Catherine, Harry of the State Historic Preservation Society have always walked me through my lack of knowledge for handleing  this property and always made me feel at ease.  Mike and Kaisa of the National Park Service have taken on the large task of handleing all of us who love our business’ and road on Route 66 helping us through the red tape of how to make our little pieces of the puzzle seem like the most important. Recently, Daniel and Wendy with the National Trust for Historic Preservation have proved to be invaluable for helping make decisions during the most dire time in history for this building. I feel like these people do so much with so little recognition and that is why it is so emotional for me to speak with them because they have been so important in my life and so many in helping guide us in keeping these areas safe from further harm. Today, when I was digging through the rubble I found a few Dr Pepper bottles. The funny part of this is that they were Indiana Jones bottles. A promotional item for the movie that I am now to poor to take the kids to see. Ha. But the funny thing is, that I feel like I’m on my own treasure hunt and that these above mentioned people are my Indiana Jones crew. They are on this adventure with me. I could not have a better recovery team than them. I am so thankful for them.  And I know I’ve forgotten some names and please understand that you are so appreciated!!

Indiana Jones Dr Pepper Bottle

In 2001, the National Park Service awarded me a grant and once finished. Mike and Kaisa presented me with this bronze plaque to commerate the event. It was always my intention to have it mounted on the building. It was the first thing I pulled from the rubble. We kept it on the fireplace mantle so I knew just where to look for it. It is going to be a great honor to be able to put this very plaque on the  Rock facade.

God bless America and our ability to come together as a village when it need be!!



Pondering History!!

June 4, 2008

As me and the kidos head off to work at the archeological site today, my head is still pondering the possibilitys presented myself with this fire. I have thought for days and days about just how much historical integrity is left at the Rock Cafe. If my history teachers had ever told me that I would grow up to fret about the historical integrity of a building much less that of Route 66, I’d have thrown my book at them. Now it is all I think about.

So as I dig and dig, ever so carefully.. looking for pieces of my history. Is it really only mine? How many will care about my little treasures. And how important were the things lost in this fire? How much of history was lost in Atlanta, when it was burning during the Civil War? How many must have been digging for there pieces of history? For me, its easier to deal with crisis in my life by thinking about all the stronger people through time who have had it worse and came out better for it. And certainly those who rebuilt their lives after the Civil War, had it worse. And as a whole, Atlanta restored its historical integrity to that of before the War. Its known today for its Southern Charm and Hospitality. With this, I forge forward.

We forge forward. Today I had several people stop by to help. Two specifically, Ron and Emily Priddy, who have really invested their time, money, and hearts for the historical integrity of Route 66. Today for several hours they helped clean debris and look for treasure to help in the effort of restoring the Rock Cafe to its former glory. Its a hard hot job! But here for nothing but the guarantee of a decent meal(meatloaf sandwichs and mashed potatos with sweet tea) they poured their heart and soul into the job. Including donating the hard hats to the cause!!

Above are Joe Carpenter and Beverly Thomas, my sister in crime at the Rock Cafe, also helping!

So as we break for a mid morning snack, of cold pancakes and flour tortillas(Young Pauls snack choice carried to site in a Cars lunchpale), I again have restored faith that everything is going to be better at the end of the day. And each day will bring a clearer vision to me and the others who have taken on the responsibilty of making sure this piece of history retains its “Historical Integrity”! Will the Rock be different…Probably..Will the Rock be the same .. Certainly!!! Still serving up good food with a flare and hometown charm known worldwide on a Road that will always be known as the “Mother Road”.

Ha!! This is Alexis after she picked up a shovel and started filling up the pickle buckets. What she didn’t know is that I had taken the easier job of shoveling and she was doing the harder work of hauling them to trash can and dumping. LOL. Thats what she gets for bragging on how strong she is.

This is todays work crew tired and headed for siesta. Thanks again for all your support! I’m headed to the State Historic Preservation Conference to get some additional insight as to the path ahead.

A penny for your thoughts!! Really any and all of your comments or ideas are greatly appreciated as we rebuild! This of course is another awesome pic taken by Alexis!!


How the clean out works!!

June 2, 2008

This is us ready to dig in!! Not pictured is Hannah; our sudo daughter!!You can see the white 5 gallon pickle buckets!! They are coming in very handy for easy carry out of debris.

The above pictures are the crew hard at work!! We now only have about 700 of our 800 square feet to remove. The five of us worked for about 2 hours Sunday night. It was hard but noone complained! Thank goodness for great children and hubbys!

The chas, our nickname for the kids, sat down once we cleared booth 1 and tryed ordering some food!

This is me at the bar trying to figure out what happened to the rest of my Coke bottle..

..and the roof!

Fred and Paul surveying the other 700 square feet!

These are the treasures from the dig today. We have a Sparks America flyer, an old orginal coffee pot, our bell for when orders are ready, a small ring that was in lost and found, and the coke bottle opener which I believe can be used again!!

We are all very tired. May not be much going on tomorrow as I will be dealing with phone calls and paper work. I hope this helps many of you understand where I’m at currently. I am so happy that the Stroud and Route 66 community has been with me in heart through this tragedy. I can’t tell you how much it means to have your support. As soon as the building is in a safe place, we will have some sort of event to celebrate the new beginning! I will keep you informed…

The Grill!!

June 1, 2008

The grill is safely under the vent hood system and appears to be in good condition. Since this is the orginal grill to the cafe, it would be a great thing if this item survives the fire. We have high hope that it will be okay!! It is the best cooking surface I have ever used!!