Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Trip Home...

I was hardly home from my travels east when it was time to head down south for a trip to Oklahoma.  There was of course a bitter sweet part to this trip.  Our recent goodbye to Don's brother Bill- and his Mom- and his Dad- has made too many of our recent trips sad at best.  We miss them in our life here in Ohio, but the miss is more poignant when we return to Oklahoma.  We're trying to fill the hole they left behind with memories, but I have to say that the emptiness is always more palpable when we drive into Tulsa.  I think maybe the loss is just going to linger a long, long time. 

We try to avoid the Oklahoma summer- always so hot and so, so, so dry.  What a surprise this year! We left the "brown lawn" look here in Ohio to arrive to the beautiful "green" of Oklahoma. I didn't even know it was possible to have "green lawns" in August in Oklahoma.  Guess some things have changed since I left a little over 16 years ago...

A trip to Oklahoma is always a reunion!  A reunion of family and friends and this trip was no exception.  We crammed so much into our time there that I'm still taking out the memories and reliving the time we had to share.  This year was especially nice because my sister scheduled her trip from Florida at the same time so I got to spend extra time with her as well.

But the trip was a whirlwind!  And the pictures will tell the story better than words might ever.  So here goes the story....

After "dumping" our stuff at Dad's we were off for a day in Bartlesville with our sister-in-law Elaine.  Now that's always a good time!  First I have to tell you that Elaine's home is absolutely stunning!  We had never been there and we were totally blown away.  Wow!

You can't pigeon hole the look- though certainly there is a strong "southwest"- but rather it is a visual expression of Elaine- comfortable- funny-interesting- impulsive-creative... There is nothing better than when  home reflects the person that resides within.  And this one certainly does.

It is interesting that Oklahoma was very late in achieving statehood.  It was originally established as Indian Territory, or to be more truthful, a place to send the many tribes of the real Native Americans because the immagrants wanted their land.  This all worked well (except for the tribes) until oil was discovered in great abundance on these "tribal" lands.  That prompted the reservation lands to become smaller and the influx of boom towns looking for oil.  Below is a representation of the first commercial oil rig that struck oil in what is now Bartlesville.

And then this trip had an extra treat!  Frank Lloyd Wright's only skyscraper was built right here in Oklahoma!  You got it- right here!.  Wright actually designed it for the NYC skyscape- but the depression put it into moth balls and it was never resurrected until an
"oil rich" gentleman in Oklahoma- Bartlesville to be exact let Wright have his way! Price Tower changed not only the landscape of this prairie town, but certainly earned Oklahoma a very visible place in the "tour" of modern architecture.  Wright built this tower for the Price family because their favored architect- Bruce Goff, the dean at the Oklahoma University School of Architecture (you're going to hear more about him later)- was unavailable and he recommended Wright.  The rest is history!

Cincinati does pigs! Vermont does moose!  Chicago does cows! Lexington does horses! Toronto did moose!  Well Bartlesville does buffalo! And Price Tower is in the background!

Wright designed the building to have two distinct sides.  The side with the horizontal lines was established as offices for the Price Pipeline Company and the side with the verticle lines was set up as residences which eventually became part of the Inn.  The green lines that establish the horizontal and verticle sides are fins made of copper and were put in place to help deflect the Oklahoma winds that come sweeping down the plains.

Currently the Price Tower has been restored as an Inn.  We stopped by at the end of our day at the Copper Bar for a fine, fine, fine finish of a wonderful day!

But back to Goff for a minute.  He designed a number of buildings in Oklahoma and another one is located in Bartlesville.  He designed the Redeemer Lutheran Church and incorporated green glass cullets in the outer structure.  These cullets are actually glass by-products that used to be produced during process of making glass.

But as we said, more about Goff later.

After an evening with Dad and Fay- and of course breakfast at Tally's!  Tally's is at the
corner of Yale Ave and 11th Street (11th Street is part of the original Highway 66) and it was my brother Bill's favorite breakfast spot.  He was a personal friend of Tally and we always make it a point to eat there once.

Oklahoma has quite a bit of interesting architecture.  Little did we know when we grew up there that we were in some of the finest examples of Art Deco style.  For more information see .  In the 1920's and 30's Oklahoma was in the oil boom and the wealth was expressed in the boom of building.  One of the more common buildings was Will Rogers High School where Max and I first met.  It is still a beautiful building.

Here are some close up examples of the detail of work that went into this building.

After leaving the high school we drove towards the downtown area to Boston Avenue Methodist Church, another beautiful Art Deco building.  This church was designed in part by the prevously mentioned Bruce Goff who eventually became the Dean of the School of Architecture at OU. This was Goff's first major work.

Finally we were off to OKC/Norman to reconnect with friends from so many years I just don't stop to count anymore.  Just suffice it to say that I moved to Norman when I was 6 months pregnant with Clint and he is now almost 33 years old!  We're talking about a LONG TIME! We stayed in the gorgeous home of Clare and Oliver.


And it was here at Oliver and Clare's I had my first "good" wine (not the pink stuff) and where I was introduced to the possiblities of "home" cooking!  I am forever grateful!

And of course we always have a Sunday Champaigne Brunch!  I do love TRADITION!

Now we really crammed in the "friends" on Sunday after breakfast.  Our first stop was with Maggie... (PS- I might mention that her son is currently over in Afganistan making maps for Captain Kappel)...

And then Walt and Earline... (PS they're going to be here in Cincinnati this weekend for the University of Oklahoma versus University of Cincinnati football game- you're going to hear more about that later!)

And then finally dinner with Sharon and Bruce at Legend's- one of my favorite restaurants in Norman- and yes it is still in business after all these years!

Monday was not nearly so busy. Maybe you're relieved- but I know I was! We spent the day with our dear friends, Kathy and TH- always a profound joy in our life!
We decided to visit the Bruce Goff designed home in Norman.  See, we told he would come up again. Now I lived in Norman a long time- 17 years if you don't count undergraduate- but I had never heard of Bruce Goff- shame on me!  It is interesting that Goff was apprenticed out to an architecture firm at the age of 12!  And still managed to become the dean of the University of Oklahoma Architecture School without ever even finishing high school!  So we were off to the Bavinger House- listed on the TOP 15 MUST SEE architecture buildings to be seen in the US!  How about that!  And not too far from where I lived for oh so many years!  This is a very strange house and now we know why.  The Bavingers were in the Art Department at OU the same time Goff was there and one night at a party (a drunken party as described by the Bavinger's son who now owns the house) they designed this house on the back of a napkin.  Apparently the next morning they decided it was still a good idea, so Goff did the real design and Bavinger built the house with a lot of volunteer student help.  The house is described as the place where art and architecture merge with nature.  In the picture below you can see that the roof is suspended by cables that come from a central spire.

The center pole of the house is actually an  oil drill pipe that runs from the base to the apex of the house.  Below is a picture of the drill pipe extending through the top level of the house.  You can also see the large number of green glass cullets that are used extensively throughout the house.  Goff apparently really liked these pieces of glass and used them in quite a number of his designs.
The inside of the house winds around and up the center pole with each of the 5 levels getting smaller as they wind to the top.  All of the furniture was either built in made of natural stone or it was suspended from the ceiling

Needless to say this is a very unusual house, but then again the Bavingers were not particularly usual people.  Near the back side of the house a road came by and people would often stop and just stand and stare at the Bavingers and their guests.  This prompted a new piece of art shown below and placed across a small creek next to the road..

If you haven't figured it out yet, it represents the people that would stand and stare at the Bavingers.  And even better, if you look close you can tell what the faces are made of.  Answer at the bottom of this blog.

And then we were off for a quick visit to the "farm"!  TH's Tree Farm that is!  That is T.H. in the picture below standing in front of the pond.  T.H. is a retired Botany Professor from  OU and dedicated his retirement to growing and providing native Oklahoma trees for planting on the campus and in yards around Norman.  He is 86 now and the tree farm has been given to the Oklahoma Nature preserve.

And of course you must see Kathy's beautiful gourd's! Now Kathy spent a career in nursing- but then found her true calling in retirement in her artistic expression!  Her work is beautiful.  Why one of her gourds was auctioned at $600! at a local benefit fund raiser!

She even grows the gourds that she uses in her back yard.

And at the end of our day with these dear, dear friends we packed into the car and returned to Tulsa for a much needed dose of FAMILY!
Fay and I slipped off for a "mother-daughter" lunch- and our much loved trip to the Philbrook Museum.  It was, of course, stunning! As always!  I never tire of my visits!  Philbrook is another gift of Oklahoma oil.  It was owned by the Phillips family, owners of Phillips Petroleum company which is headquarterd in Bartlesville.  The house was their residence until it was donated to Tulsa for use in the arts.  It has 72 rooms and sits on 23 acres right in the middle of Tulsa.

But the rest of this visit was uninterrupted family time!  And as far as I'm concerned you just can't beat uninterrupted family time!
This first picture is with family friends- Nancy and Jimmy Dodds- from our childhood.  We lined up oldest to youngest.  I'm not telling which end is the oldest...

Our beautiful niece Piper and her husband Cory where able to join us!  What a treat!

And of course my sister!

And sister-in-law...
And my brother....

Of course the really good looking ones are Dad and Fay!

If you are still with us on this blog you get to see the answer to the art work at Bavinger House.  Here is the picture again:  Each of the heads is the bottom of a sink.  The eyes are holes for the hot and cold water faucets and the  mouth is the drain.  The center sink was made to fit into a corner.


Brandy said...

Great post! I love the pics of all the family and friends, everyone looks wonderful. I never knew Oklahoma had so much interesting architecture, thanks for the lesson.

Sandy said...

I just loved reading this! Thanks for the tour. I am a big architecture buff, so especially appreciated the joice tidbits here. Having grown up in Boston Avenue, I always thought that Ada M. Robinson was the architect - and this did mean somehting to me as a young girl - though I later learned that its authorship was contested. I'll look it up to see what's the current take on it.
Is Brazil next on your itinerary?