How did they do that?

In those days before sidewalks, cement, and even available bricks at a reasonable price, how did people walk around their houses when it rained or snowed?  This early Oklahoma photograph shows just how they did it.  Long planks of wood, side by side, formed a crude but workable sidewalk.  Taken about 1910 an older man and woman, a young woman and a young man (about 12 with his bike) pose for the camera.  It was taken in Guthrie, Oklahoma and the exact location or the family is unknown.


This smiling family group were caught enjoying a swimming area in Oklahoma (most likely either Creek or Oklmulgee County).  Note there is either a windmill or water tank in the upper right corner of the image and three people at the far side of the pond or lake. 

They are left to right: Jesse Marvin Hudson, Effie A. Ray Conner Hudson, Jess Hudson, and Freeman Conner.  Based on the fact Jess died in 1929 in a gas line explosion in Bristow, Oklahoma and the fact the youngest child was born in 1915, this image was taken about 1920. They epitome of swimming fashion, the family looks to be having a grand time beating the heat in eastern Oklahoma. 

Hudson Family, eastern Oklahoma, ca 1920


Grand Structures of McAlester

Known primarily as the location of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary, the historic community of McAlester is today a fascinating community.  In many parts of Oklahoma the custom was to create larger footprints and occasionally rise several stories above the broad streets of Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and other communities. In McAlester there is at work different approaches to the classic downtown. The emphasis appeared to be on smaller footprints but taller and more imposing structures.  The result is a city-scape that seems to lurk and loom over the steep and hilly downtown.  In places, they create dark canyons suggesting plans to recreate a Chicago or a New York amid the tree covered and mine rich terrain of the community.
Grand Avenue UMC
The Grand Avenue United Methodist Church, 1922- is one example of the spirit and structure of the city. The Pittsburgh County Courthouse. The Aldridge Hotel, 1929, has been recently renovated and serves as living space for seniors.  The Scottish Rite Temple (a one time hospital). One has to stop and be in awe of the drive to create such massive, towering structures in the tree covered hills of southeastern Oklahoma. What motivated them? Whose visions were expressed in stone and mortar?

County Courthouse

Scottish Rite


An Intriguing Book

I must admit a weakness for old buildings, mysteries, and vintage times.  So I was interested when I ran across a newspaper piece from March 20, 1955 titled, "Mystery Grips Old Hotel."  

I was further intrigued as I read that Jean Waldschmidt, author of The Mystery of the Old Thorndyke (NY:Thomas Nelson, 1955) was from Oklahoma.  It was apparently a young adult mystery featuring two teen boys who have been sent to take photographs of the soon to be demolished old hotel for their father, member of the faculty of Midwestern University. 

The old hotel, set in Carson City, where cattlemen and cowboys had once both found rest and beauty in old prairies of Indian Territory, was a fading grand dame of other times, had been willed to the university.  Soon after they arrive a series of weird and frightening events begin to happen and the tension mounts. 

Marable, Mary Hays. "Mystery Grips Old Hotel." The Oklahoman (March 20, 1955):67.
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Copies of the title are in the special collections of the Metropolitan Library System (OKC), The Oklahoma Department of Libraries, and Oklahoma State University. Additionally, the Library of Congress has a copy along with some dozen other institutions.

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