Sunday, March 29, 2015

Miami Memories: A st. stories

Dr. Pepper memory from childhood
I'd like to blame my love of  Dr. Pepper on my college life, carrying a heavy load of college classes and needing a sugar/caffeine boost every so often, but the true story is that I first discovered Dr. Pepper when I was in 2nd grade at Lincoln school. We lived on the corner of A S.W. across from Lincoln.  My upstairs bedroom window overlooked the playground, and best of all the drive through at Doc's BBQ and Gene's Tarry-A-While.

I learned a lot about life from that upstairs window. The family up the street from us, the Cantrells, had six children (later seven), but we called them the sixes.  Many summer days one of the sixes would let me tag along
Courtesy of Ron Wagoner.  
as we'd go over to Doc's or Gene's in the daytime and share an ice cream cone or Dr. Pepper.  We never had much money, so we shared and pooled our resources.  (Later as a teenager I looked at Doc's differently and my memories are more emotional.)

Thanks to  MHS Class '64 & Sammie Ketcher
My storytelling days were also born on A street.  With my tiny upstairs window open in the summer nights I could listen to the music blaring from Doc's speakers, and with Dad's binoculars I could spy on the lovers in the parking lot.  We were never allowed to go over there at night! Sometimes Sherry and Judi and I would sit on my bed and take turns watching people. Kissing was absolutely disgusting, and I could not figure out why anyone would cuddle under a hot sweaty arm of a man on a hot summer night, much less put lips together.  Just the same, we laughed and giggled when we saw the moves coming.  

My favorite song of all was "Davy Crockett King of the Wild Frontier."  Even then I was part feminist because I wore a white Polly Crockett hat, not the brown one made for boys, but poor Polly never had a song named after her.  Fess Parker sings Davy Crocket  Sherry and Judy Cantrell and I ventured off to the Neosho River, and walked up and down the banks of the muddy flowing river. When it flooded it was even more dangerous and more reason to walk to the edges of the swirling river.  Most homes didn't fence off their backyards, so we thought it was safe to tread on their property, even the magnificent homes north of Route 66 along the river banks.  Carol Cosby lived very near the river, and we often stood on the bank throwing sticks into the water and searched for snakes. Don't know what we would have done if we'd found one!

My mother had a kind heart and my father was a flamboyant man who loved to tell a good story and drive fast cars, but it was a hobo who spent an afternoon with us on the doorstep that sparked my imagination and opened my eyes to the wide wide world.  We were only a few blocks from the railroad tracks, and it was not uncommon for hobo's to hop on and off the trains passing through.  Mother would always serve them soup or a baloney sandwich, and I would watch from the screen door as they ate alone.

1985 Matt, Michael, Katy, Letty.  
Clouds building in the Grand Canyon
One time a hobo told my mother that he'd once lived in Wichita, Kansas.  That was her home, and she smiled and listened as he told his sad story.  When he sat down on the steps to eat, I asked if I could join him.  Mother watched out the kitchen window, as this seven year old girl sat beside a stranger one afternoon and listened to his stories.  He pointed to the straggly elm trees along the street and said, "Imagine walking into a forest where trees grow so high they touch the sky, and where they are as wide as that garage across the street."  From his stories of giant trees and red golden gorges dug by the hands of God I began to see the world.  He painted a world that I wanted to see, and he was just a hobo, a man, who made a difference in this child's life.  

Hope all of you see these wonders in your lifetime, and toast with a Dr. Pepper to memories.  

This is a link to a great old photo of  Gene's Tarry-A-While in Miami, Oklahoma.  Thanks Fredas Cook.  


  1. What fun memories, thanks for sharing!

  2. Brings back many memories. My Daddy owned the International Harvester dealership right across the street from Gene's. It became the Elk's Lodge and when there for reunions or special occasions, had my sweet sixteen birthday there, I still see it as the dealership and a little 5 year old riding her tricycle around on all the concrete. I actually grew up playing on tractors and farm equipment. My Grandmother's house was behind the dealership on the corner on A SE. and she was the bookkeeper and I stayed at her house until 5pm every day. There was Barbara Cole, Kathy Elrod and I playing together after school. Marlene Cox's Grandmother lived across the street and got to play with us once in a while. We lived on a farm South of Miami and rode into town with Daddy every morning and then walked a half block to Lincoln school. In the early days Gene's was on the other side of the lot and was a long rectangle building like a box car. My brothers and I spend many hours on the chrome bar stools at the counter. I remember ordering chocolate milk and the pie was the best in town. In the dealership there was a Coke cooler but I never got to drink soda until I was a teen. When Gene built the new building and had that wonderful buffet, my Dad ate lunch there every day. During the summer all of us ate there for lunch .I guess it was cheaper to do an all you can eat buffet that buying groceries for a main meal for a family of seven. Only time I was at Doc's was when I starting driving and dating. You had to back into the parking space and I think all of us learned how to back up without hitting the cars on each side from that experience. Lots of fun memories on South Main. Wow, this got long, maybe should do I blog. I love reading yours. Keep writing. Marquita Boehnke

  3. Just finished your last blog. Loved it. Dr Pepper is my favorite even when I worked at Coca Cola. Lots of memories from doc's and Gene's. I to lived by the tracks and saw many Hobos at our back door. Just never talked with them.
    Mom always made them a egg sandwich. Course we had chickens so eggs were cheap. RJ