Day 26: Grey Day in Southern OK

The sunny streak might be over for a while.  Today was grey from start to finish.  Some temporary moments of brightness but I wouldn’t call it sun.  So settle back for some white-sky photos for this post.  The forecast isn’t much cheerier for the next few days.  All kinds of vague references to thunderstorms and high probability of precipitation.  This seems all very deliberately confusing to me.  When the forecast is “chance of thunderstorms”  — does that mean rain mostly all day?  Or sun and then maybe some heavy-duty rain for a couple of hours?  And when they say “40% chance of precipitation” — does that mean all day?  Or just maybe at some point there is a 40% chance of rain — but it might not happen at all?  All I can do is plow through my list and shoot what I can regardless of the grey or rain.  Because you never know what will still be around the “next time”.

No swimming for the kids today.  But it never really got that hot.  I seemed to find funky grassy areas without paw-piercing stickers pretty easily.  We were in the middle of nowhere for most of the day.  At the end of the day, behind the Fried Pies place (hey, no cheating and going to the bottom of the post!), there was a nice big field to let them rip around one last time for the day.

Shall we.  The day started in Altus — so here’s a couple of sign shots from there.  The stores in this little L-shaped strip mall must have each had a mini neon scaffold sign above their businesses — now only the barber shop has one.  Some of the others had naked scaffolding.  This sign obviously had neon originally — and the colors would be much nicer with proper sun:

On the north end of town, another shopping center.   Probably always plastic lettering — but I could be wrong.  Maybe there were neon letters originally.  But my theory is that when they built this sign, they went for sheer size — after all, a much bigger lot than the Park Lane.  But bigger not always better, no real style here.  Still so much better than today’s shopping center signs.  And I bet those poles could stop a tractor-trailer.

On to Cache — where a Burger Chef sign was reworked for an amusement park.  Eagle Park is obviously long gone.  I don’t know if there was ever a Burger Chef here or if the sign was moved to this spot.  Certainly no sign of a BChef building there now if there ever was one:

While I was in Anadarko, I saw some construction workers hacking away at a nice-ish mid-century building.  Very primitively banging off details with giant sledgehammery clubs (sorry, not up on the names of demolition tools).  It seemed to be part of a school.  I couldn’t bring myself to take photos.  And I feared they would be moving on to this place down the block when they were done:

A couple of signs from Chickasha:

Also in Chickasha — the incredible Art Deco Grady County Courthouse.  I don’t know what building material was used — but I’ve never seen anything like it — note the shells in the third photo below:

Still in Chickasha — another bulb-studded crown sign:

I went to check out Muscle Car Ranch in Chickashaw which I knew had some vintage signs and a Valentine diner (it actually has two).  Naturally, on a Wednesday afternoon, they were closed.  But looking over the fence, how could I help myself but find a little hole in the fence and do some trespassing.  I’ve learned to shoot quick and do a little jogging.  Half listening for a rifle crack and preparing to sweet-talk a Rottweiler or two.  A big property and I’d gotten about three-fourths the way around before I saw humans.  I took the initiative and immediately said I’d hoped I’d find somebody because I wanted to pay admission to the museum.  Don’t know if I caught the owner off-guard when I handed him a $20.  But really, I meant it.  I told him to use it to help buy more signs.  Here’s just a few of the photos of motel signs, dealership signs, gas station signs, etc.  More at my website eventually.

Moving on to Lawton — a strange little mid-century building.  I find it charming but I suppose lots of you would put it in the ugly category:

Still in Lawton.  I KNOW I’ve seen this sign before somewhere.  Repurposed here for a used car lot (and now for sale) but the canopies & building look like this was originally a drive-in restaurant.  Lawtonians — what was this place?  Or anyone else recognize this sign — which I think might have been mass-produced?

Tres shabby-chic, I know.  But that’s what this blog is for!  If you want pretty, go visit my Flickr stuff.  Although it’s pretty grey & drab there tonight as well because of the weather.  Anyhow, these snoozing Mexican is from Wynnewood:

Also in Wynnewood:  a whole herd of freaky horses according to Gremlin who’s barking her head off here:

Fix & Nik come up for a closer look.  Fix isn’t fooled.  But Nik can’t stand it and immediately jumps out the window ready for a good run.  He’s shocked when they turn out to be fakes.

Fix keeps an eye on them, just in case.  Or pondering these existence and purpose of fiberglass animals.  Grip is in the backseat — barking and staying out of the mayhem up front:

So Steppin-Out is really a Western wear store.  I had gone there for the cowboy Muffler Man.  Apparently, they’re big on fiberglass animals as well.  Another location in Ada?  I’m going there tomorrow!

I’m big on fiberglass dinosaurs.  I’ve got a section at my site for them & a page for the Sinclair types:

I knew there was a Sinclair station in Davis that had one.  Supposedly next to a fried pie place.  Huh?  Turns out the Sinclair station IS now a fried pie place.  The pumps are gone but the Sinclair signs still there.  And somewhere along the way, the dino got painted red.

So, yes, of course, I stocked the dog crate pantry with three pies:  blackberry, apricot and coconut.  The third sounds very risky but what the heck.

I posed the blackberry pie on the bumper of a good-ole-boy’s truck bumper.  This one was actually a pretty small truck — but American, of course.  I know we’re in Oklahoma now but Davis is very close to Texas.  I think 80 percent of the vehicles in Texas are trucks.  And though they claim they use them for “haulin”, I’m bettin’ that it’s mostly just a looks thing.  And not just for men — I saw lots of petite women driving Ford 350s and such.  Anyhow, yes, the pie was good — but probably way better, crispier in the morning.  This was 8pm.

Tomorrow — more southern & southeastern OK stops.  Hoping to wind up in OKC or thereabouts by evening.  And though I don’t understand or trust the forecasters, Friday is supposed to be the sunniest day for a while so I’d better maximize it for high-volume shooting.

15 thoughts on “Day 26: Grey Day in Southern OK

  1. Hi DJ,
    Unfortunately I’ve been unable to follow you day by day since last Friday. So, I’ve got some catching up to do.
    First, thanks for posting your “crappy” video of Babe’s sign. Still better than nuttin’.
    More nice signs Wednesday. Good job.

    If you aren’t aware, the Giant Colt Pistol is a portable BBQ smoker (pit).

    Redskin Theatre: Just so happens that Anadarko had a tornado strike, get this, on my Birthday, May 13, 2009. Details here:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if that damage took place then.

    Speaking of Redskin Theatres, looks like Muscle Car Ranch rescued the sign for another Redskin, this one from Oklahoma City, a beauty, razed in 2004:

    Redskin Theater Oklahoma City OK 1994


    Well, all I can hope for the next few days is at least, if not sunny, no rain for ya. Take care. Keep shooting!

    • The Pistol didn’t seem to be the BBQ variety — but I’ll have to have another look. That was my initial idea since I’ve seen a few of these — but something told me “no”.

      There were lots of signs in piles & others spread further out on the property — HUGE place. So I’m sure I missed some beauties. But I need to go back in sun anyway. I guess “redskin” is an acceptable term in these parts.

  2. So glad I read ’til the end! LOVE that photo of Fix looking positively human – and Fried Pies – OMG (as the kids say) sounds delicious. Sinclair gas stations remind me of my grandfather who would give me soaps in the shape of a dino, and I somehow remember a soap in the shape of a granny in a rocking chair, with wheels? I’ll have to google that.

    Even if the weather stays gray hope it doesn’t rain on you!

    • Fix looks away usually whenever I take out the camera — maybe she is human? – but in this case, there was something to hold her attention. Fried pie for breakfast shortly! Don’t think we had Sinclair stations or their dinos & soaps back in California where I grew up.

  3. Just wanted to let you know the last time I went to Oklahoma City there was a Sinclair-looking dino in a junkyard or storage yard on the northeast side of OKC on I-35. I belive it is just south of Frontier City amusement park on the west side of the highway.

    I hope the weather stays dry and sunny for you!

    • Thanks — I’ll make a note of it. You don’t mean this guy, do you?

      I have a bunch of other last-minute additions to the OKC maps. Raining here at 8:30am — waiting for it to brighten a bit before taking first miserable photo of the morning. According to, right now it’s “foggy with 40% chance of rain”. Gee, looks like drops to me and I’d call it 100%.

  4. Hey DJ,
    As far as I know, the Burger Chef sign in Cache must have been moved from either Lawton or some other larger city. Cache has never had a moment where a Burger Chef would have likely made a home out there. Eagle Park now is a ghost town and contains many of the old houses and buildings that belonged to locals, including Quanah Parker, a Native American politician and businessman.

    The sign at the old drive-in might have been one of the Del’s restaurants–Lawton had several in the middle of last century. Now there’s just Big Chef on Lee Blvd near I-44.

    The Chickasha courthouse exterior is made of the same rock used at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth I believe. The local guest speaker told me what it was called in Fort Worth, and of course I’ve forgotten.

    There’s a Sinclair truck stop off I-44 (headed East out of Tulsa) around 161st East Ave that has a dino perched out front.

    • Yeah, there didn’t seem to be much to Cache — but I didn’t know if that meant maybe some nasty tornado wiped out the town. If they went to the trouble to alter the sign so much, makes sense that they got it from another place.

      I remember now where I’ve seen that same sign as the one in Lawton — I thought it was unique — but obviously, they must have been mass-produced (or at least somebody copied). The Golden Flame in Chicago (now CVS) sign:
      CVS Sign

      I took a photo of the Amon Carter — will have to compare.

      I’ll try to make a note of the dino — if he’s not already on my list.

      • Yep, there ya go. Pretty cool stuff. I was surprised when he said it was real fossils, not manufactured.

  5. DJ, it’s Jan/nx here… quite the road trip and some very tasty venues too. Lots of “goodness” in your uploads for this post!

    • Glad you’re enjoying the blog offerings. Some people prefer the blog to my website. It’s a ton of work, and done hastily very late at night, but I force myself to keep doing it.

  6. I’ve been putting in long hours at the darkroom the past week, but my prints are finished and I am now all caught up with your trip and back riding on the bus with you and the pups. The tempo of your journey seems more relaxed in OK than it was in TX. I am so happy you photographed so many cool places still around.

    I love all the handpainted cowboy signs you found, and also the old Route 66 cafe/gas stations. So Great Gatsby, and also so Last Picture Show.

    The photos you shot in the smoke in Texas are particularly beautiful. The orange diffused light added a unique quality to the old Chevron station there.

    All my best wishes for safe journey to you and the pups. You are in my thoughts every day, even when I don’t have a chance to get online.

    Sorry to hear about your speeding ticket and warnings, but dang, you’ve got a great attitude about those!

    • Congrats on finishing your project and welcome back. OK has so far had many more miles driving than shooting — but I think that’s about to change now that I’ve finished the more remoter SW & SCentral parts of the state. Not even bothering with the 10 stops or so that I planned for the SE — I’ll catch those next year en route to TX to tidy up what I had to put aside. But the area between OKC & Tulsa & MO border should be very busy. Just hoping the weatherpeople are wrong (as they usually are).

      The smokey photos are eerie — but breathing that stuff was really no fun. And too distracting as backgrounds for my docu-style photos.

      Speeding tickets are just cost-of-living out here on the road. I’d be in trouble if they counted towards my license & insurance. But with no reciprocity with NY, it’s just cost of admission & hopefully goes towards road improvements and not more cops!

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