OK Fireworks in west Tulsa along Skelly Drive (I-44) was the place to buy fireworks when I was kid. My dad worked at a factory in west Tulsa and every year a few days before the Fourth of July, he would stop at OK Fireworks and purchase one of the box deals. I remember the company running big ads in the Tulsa World newspaper with all the specials.
I think my dad paid around $11-12 for the box. Inside were Black Cat firecrackers, sparklers, Roman candles, fountains, bottle rockets and an assortment of other goodies. When he pulled up in the driveway, out the door I went to meet him and get my box of fireworks.
Some years, I shot off my fireworks at my grandparents on my mom’s side of the family. It could be 100 degrees outside and I was out having fun shooting off fireworks.
Other years, we would drive over to Bentonville, Ark., home of Wal-Mart, where a friend of my mom and her son, Audrey and Vic, lived. I think maybe Audrey worked with my mom at some time. We always had a great time shooting fireworks on the Fourth.
In the late 1960s, my folks and a couple from the First Baptist Church in Tulsa grew a big garden on a spot of land in East Tulsa. This couple had two boys, Mark and Gary, who were a little older than me.
I remember spending many summer afternoons at the garden while my folks tended to the vegetables and my dad used his roto tiller to turn the earth. My family grew tomatoes, green beans, peas, onions, potatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe and even okra, a southern favorite. I ate a lot of okra back in the day. My mom would slice it and dip it in milk and egg and then coat it in cornmeal and flour. She’d fry it in the iron skillet and I didn’t let any go waste.
One year my dad bought some gypsum from the Arkansas River. They would mix the gypsum in the soil as a fertilizer. They had two big truck loads piled on the edge of the garden. Mark and Gary spent one afternoon there making sculptures with the gypsum. It seems they made robot-type creatures in a box. It was so cool.
I remember shooting off fireworks with Mark and Gary. We shot so many bottle rockets that the Pepsi bottle turned black from the fireworks powder.
Another fun summer activity was fishing. A life-long friend, Rob, and I loved to fish. Rob’s uncle had 400 acres of hunting land with a big pond right off the county line in Wagoner County, just southeast of Tulsa. I caught the biggest bass ever, a 3.5 pounder, and took it home and cleaned it and my mom cooked it for me.
Rob had a cousin who lived on the property in a mobile home. He owned an old Army Jeep. One time, Rob, myself and a few friends took the Jeep for a spin, chasing cows and running over small trees. I got a chance to get behind the wheel and off we went up the side of a big hill. I thought I was going turn it over, but we made safely to the top. That was fun!
There was a mom and pop grocery store near the farm pond called the County Line Store. They had a meat counter and we’d always stopped to pick up a fresh deli sandwich and couple dozen worms for the fish.
We also enjoyed fishing on Grand Lake northeast of Tulsa about 50 miles. Rob’s uncle had a lake home there and we’d spend all day fishing off the boat dock. I would take an ice chest full of cold Pepsi and we’d stop at this bait store that also served fresh deli sandwiches. We enjoyed many good conversations and caught lot of fish through the years.
With all the cancelations and changes going on in the world, it’s good to keep those memories close to your heart. They will get you through the tough days. Another bit of wisdom is to turn off the bad news. You don’t have to listen to everything. You will survive without knowing what is going on in the world. Same goes for social media, something I need to work on.
Read a book, go for a walk, mow the neighbor’s yard, see or call a friend and catch up on the good ole times. It’s also a great time to do something good for someone else.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.
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