Tulsa’s history: Book it
Not so long ago — reflections on Tulsa
If my football prognostications were as accurate as my literary predictions, I’d own Las Vegas.
The successful crystal ball gazing was in the introduction to John Brooks Walton’s third book on historic Tulsa homes, “Many More Historic Tulsa Homes.” In writing that introduction, one of my enjoyable duties as the book’s editor, I noted that Walton’s doubt that a third book on historic Tulsa homes would be published was proven false by the very book the reader was holding.
I then proclaimed, “Don’t bet there won’t be a volume number four.”
(In retrospect, a more-than-awkward double negative.)
That was seven years ago, but my prognostication has come true with the publishing of Walton’s “Tomorrow’s Historic Tulsa Homes.”
As handsome, witty and informative as the others in the series (the first two were “One Hundred Historic Tulsa Homes” and “One Hundred More Historic Tulsa Homes”), the new edition will be a great seasonal gift for those interested in Tulsa’s rich history. It is both coffee-table and curl-up-with worthy.
But it is not the only book that will attract those with an interest in Tulsa. With that in mind, I scanned my own shelf of books on Tulsa and did a highly unscientific check of local emporiums to provide the following guidance for those wanting to warm the heart and mind of a Tulsan this holiday season.
Next to Walton’s books (available at locally owned Steve’s Sundry, Books and Magazines, 2612 S. Harvard Ave.), “Historic Photos of Tulsa” (longtime Tulsa photographer Jerry L. Cornelius provided the text and captions) is an excellent choice. While some of the photos printed partly cloudy, which is not surprising given the age of the prints used, the book is a marvelous stroll through Tulsa’s history as seen through the eyes of a camera shutter. Easy to find, it is available at Steve’s, Borders and Barnes & Noble.
Speaking of Barnes & Noble, it has ample copies of the ‘Images of America’ series entry on Tulsa, “Tulsa: Where the Streets Were Paved With Gold.” Unfortunately, that book is 10 years old and references the annual Greenwood Jazz and Bluegrass and Chili festivals in Tulsa.
More current — this year as a matter of fact — is “Insiders’ Guide to Tulsa” by Elaine Warner. A concise history and sidebar features on such topics as Adah Robinson, designer of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church, make this a worthwhile addition to a Tulsa library. Alas, it, too, falls victim to changing times with a favorable mention of the now-gone Lola’s at the Bowery in the Brady Arts District.
You’ll also find the ‘Images of America’ book at Borders, along with the Tulsa State Fair entry in that series. The Borders I visited at 8015 S. Yale Ave. also has Wayne McCombs’ excellent “Baseball in Tulsa” for the slugger in your household.
Speaking of books on special subjects, John Wooley’s authoritative and eminently readable book on Oklahoma music, “From the Blue Devils to Red Dirt: The Colors of Oklahoma Music,” has an excellent chapter on the Tulsa Sound as well as a wealth of information on Tulsa musicians. It was a state centennial book and is difficult to find now (Steve’s had one copy when I visited), but it’s worth looking for. (At Steve’s, you’ll also find books on Tulsa’s art deco, Tulsa’s Black Wall Street and a Tulsa ABCs book for kids.)
Unfortunately, the late Danney Goble’s “Tulsa! Biography of the American City” is difficult to find new (Steve’s had one copy when I visited), but it is worth searching for on Amazon.
Three excellent blasts from the past can be found used at Gardner’s Used Books and Music Inc., 4421 S. Mingo Road: “Tulsa 75,” which was published on the city’s 75th birthday and is notable for its timeline; “The Tulsa Spirit,” a history of Tulsa edited by Larry Silvey and published in 1979; and Robert Gregory’s thoroughly fascinating “Oil in Oklahoma.”