A Visit To Oklahoma City……..#263 (the 2000’s)

Embraer 129

Gary and Fran having made a  decision to visit  Oklahoma and Kansas, Gary having worked out an itinerary for their journey.  They would fly round trip to Oklahoma City,  the couple would rent a car,  spending time to visit friends, his son Scott, Lana and granddaughter Sarah,  then visit daughter Marlo, Chris and granddaughter Allison, and during this time, Fran could fly to Texas for a brief visit with her daughter Donna, husband Randy and grandkids in North Richland Hills, a suburb of Fort Worth. On Fran’s return, the two would travel to Wichita, visit with son Rob, daughter Sandra and husband Jeremy, and on their return to Oklahoma City, travel through Anthony and Kiowa to acquaint the many friends and church members from his twenty years of haven in these farming communities.

Jerry Willis and Gary

Bob Wallace

Gary at the Uptown Club – OKC

All was planned, so he thought,  Gary finding out his well thought out itinerary was nullified.  unbeknownst to him, Fran had interceded, taking it upon herself to communicate with both of his son’s and two daughters, about having a Oklahoma City family reunion that would include close friends, Jerry Willis and Bob Wallace, two band members from Gary’s past.  Jerry agreeing to resurrect his Fender guitar that he hadn’t touched in twenty years, Gary to be reunited with his Fender Rhodes piano that he had given Scott,  and Bob Wallace to vocalize in  a musical reunion from the past.  Gary acknowledging, sometimes life can play its own tune,  especially with the help of a loving wife.

The phone call to a Cab Company scheduled an early morning 4:30 a.m. journey to the Modesto Airport,  a distance under three miles, the couple having decided to depart from Modesto rather than drive to San Francisco for the scheduled 5:45 A.M departure. In line with less than a dozen boarding passengers, the Modesto TSA agent removing several personal healthcare items from Fran’s purse to her displeasure,  a Embraer 120 twin turboprop airliner awaiting,  the Embraer,  a Brazilian manufactured acquisition of United Express,  its new designation  SkyWest Air.  The turbo prop aircraft having a thirty passenger capacity,  but this morning having only twelve passengers boarding,  its flight time from Modesto to San Francisco, less than 55 minutes.


Gary finding the bilious echoing  of the twin turboprops reviving up a melodious sound,  unlike the innervated sound of  modern jet engines.  The reverberations felt throughout the interior of the cabin during takeoff was cogent,  the vibrations giving all aboard a hence of yesteryear,  a recollection of aeronautical experiences from the past.    Gary seated at a window was adherent as the aircraft rose,  a slow ascent,  it’s direction north for a distance, then banking west in the twilight of the morning, crossing over the familiar Altamont Pass, soon reaching the expanse throes of San Francisco Bay.  Aligning itself with the San Mateo Bridge, then banking right,  acquiring the bay viewed runway lights of San Francisco International,  the turbo prop craft setting down proclaiming another successful flight.   The Willson’s first leg of their airborne flight to Oklahoma City secured,  the journey to continue.

United Airlines 737

United Airlines 737

Boarding a United Airline 737, the craft traversing east, an uninterrupted flight to Denver,  the morning sun providing a hologram of transparency in the morning sky. A transition of aircraft in Denver,  an opportunity for lunch, discovering  the Denver Airport having acquired a McDonald’s,  a welcome provider for the couple’s limited budget agenda.  The Boeing 737 ascending east from the Denver Airport,  Gary having traveled this journey several times before, observing the terrain as they progressed eastward, noting the view as they approached Oklahoma. the mile sections contour changing,  no longer the barren landscape of accord,  but a broadcast of cultivation activity,  the farming endeavors of Oklahoma giving its pronouncement.

A remembrance – The OKC airport, the way it was.

Chris & Marlo

the approach  to Will Rogers International Airport, calling for a southern accession,  a scenic reminiscence from  years past when the main runway paralleled Portland Avenue.  The original airport facility, a contingency containing a control tower, a ticket agency,  restaurant and a boarding gate with mobile stairs for entry and exit access to the aircraft, thoughts of nostalgia being remedied with the 737’s  landing.  Departing the plane,  the couple being greeted by their son-in-law Chris,  the party of three having to follow a maze to retrieve their luggage and the parking area,  Chris explaining the airport was again being expanded with construction.   Once settled in Chris’s car  the disappointing news was exclaimed,  the couple being informed that their stay with the Denton’s would have to be postponed,  Chris relating that Marlo had contracted the flu.  Being very apologetic for such a short notice, that it would be better for the couple to find another source of residency for a couple of days.  but countered with some good news, they could use his Honda Odyssey SUV during their stay

The Holiday Inn West

Oklahoma City Key Magazine display

Gary, Jerry and Jan

Retrieving the Honda from a storage facility, the couple’s immediate concern was securing lodging,  Gary deciding to check out a familiar area on South Meridian, the Motel 6,  across from a vacant area where the Holiday Inn West  once stood.  Gary having played piano at the Holiday Inn’s Pirates Cove Club during the late 60’s and early 70’s, but a time endowed renovation having removed all aspects of the envisioned accomplishments of owner Lloyd Hobbs and construction contractor Carl Ware, both acquaintance’s from a thirty year bygone era. The Motel Six hadn’t changed in over twenty years when Gary, and a young son Robert, would spend a night after visiting Marlo and other friends.

Gary was apprehensive, knowing that Oklahoma City was designated as a play-off City for the NCAA Basketball National Finals, known as March Madness,  realizing that most Oklahoma City motel accommodations would bee full, but Lady Luck smiled,  the motel having a single vacancy. Fran’s plan of a musical reunion beginning to unravel,  a phone call discovering  that long time musician friend Bob Wallace was under duress and wasn’t feeling well,  having just returned from the Vets, his dog of many years was on his deathbed, Gary understanding  Bob’s concern, for his canine companion outweighed everything else.

A charming hostess Lana Norwicki

Scott and granddaughter Sarah

Tad and Shylee Norwicki

The couple first visit was to the Lana Norwicki residence,  Gary’s ostentatious son Scott’s staying with his long time lady companion and the illustrious mother of Granddaughter Sarah.  The couple enjoying lunch with their hostess,  finally getting better acquainted with Lana and her two children Tad and Shylee.   The use of the Honda Odyssey was a blessing, affording Gary not only the opportunity to tour Oklahoma City but acquainting  Fran with places from his past and revisiting memories.

Self explanatory

The Horseshoe Club_SW 29th & Kentucky

A bit of humor about to be injected during their journey, the couple now having two Chihuahua’s in the family, inheriting a documented Blue Chihuahua named Little Bit from Gary’s niece Mary.  Traveling on southwest 29th Street, noticing an interesting establishment appropriately named, The Chihuahua Bakery, a puzzling and unusual name for a bakery,  a picture taken for prosperity.  A drive-by visit to various  places Gary had played during his 19 years as a musician in Oklahoma City, Ross Miller’s  Horseshoe Club,  Herbie Carpenters Hi-Low Club, now call the 50’s Club  and what remained of Bob and Jerry’s Apartment Key Club on North Hudson below the remaining Sieber Hotel and Apartment Complex.

Jerry Willis


Continuing on to Gary’s friend of 35 years, Jerry Willis, still residing on Southwest 25th Street, the best man at his wedding to Kaye in 1962, and duplicating his best man role in his 1976 second marriage with Jan and now introduced to Fran.  Gary finding Jerry and wife Shirley amiable as always,  having recognized there were not many people in this world that propounded a Jerry and Shirley disposition, exemplifying the positive perspective of a meaningful life.  The visit with his friend drawing to a close, Gary deciding to venture a visit and introduce Fran to Bob Wallace, his musician cohort from the band who resided on the north-side of the City.   Arriving, Gary finding the once six-foot slender 165 pound Bob having gained an additional 50 pounds, and from their conversation and appearance concluded he wasn’t in the best of health.  Gary recognizing that his friend was still very much concerned about the condition of his dog and wasn’t up to reminiscing about the past,  deciding to make the visit short.


The following morning, Gary placing a call to Marlo, his daughter relating that her session with the Flu had subsided and now cordoned for them to stay at her SW. 99th Street residence.   During the drive the couple deciding to pause at nearby Resthaven Cemetery, the location of Gary’s Grandson Garrett’s final resting place, this being Gary’s first visit to Resthaven since the memorial service.  Unable to find Garrett’s memorial, asking the cemetery concierge for directions. The pause at the cemetery giving Fran and Gary meaningful conscience time for reflection before continuing on.   Marlo welcoming their arrival, apologetic for the inconvenience that her illness had caused,  pointing out the extensive remodeling her and Chris had just completed, and from the time frame, Gary humorously suspected that the conclusion of her flu illness, may have corresponded with the drying of the bedroom paint.

Fran’s planned desire for this Oklahoma City visit to be a musical event between Gary, Jerry and Bob, now totally disheveled,  but his wife’s plan B of a family reunion was put into effect.  Gary’s son Rob and his lady companion Dawn journeying from Wichita, as did his daughter Sandra and husband Jeremy,  both couples arriving at Lana’s and Scott’s residence Saturday morning.   The family entourage deciding on a breakfast get together, three of Gary’s four children in attendance, Marlo declining.

  The late morning gathering was short-lived, Robert having to recess back to Wichita, leaving for Afghanistan early Monday morning.  Gary’s son having fulfilled his five-year naval enlistment, but still very conscious of his country’s call, having enlisted with a tactical support civilian company utilizing his service related training.  Rob having received the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal, for providing exceptional maintenance and administrator support for two patrol squadrons, while forward deployed in Bahrain, additionally, he expertly managed two sites of 50 personal computers, two local area network and global command and control systems.

Robs Navy Achievement Award

Sunday found Gary and Fran on an excursion with their Granddaughter Allison to the Cowboy Hall of Fame on northeast 63rd.   Gary having been present during the inaugural of its construction watching the magnificent structure raise to prominence.   Entering ‘The Museum of Time’,  journeying thru the halls of western history,   impressed not only with the displayed accolades of  Western Hollywood Stars portrayed by the cinema,  but more so with the hallway devoted to the travel of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804,  never realizing such an exposition of their travels could be so vividly presented and graphically displayed.

End of the Trail



Having witnessed the magnificent museum from its conception, and through past years of expansion, taking stock that it had finally matured into a marvel of historic precedent,  giving a latent chronicle of western heritage.   Gary lagging behind his wife and granddaughter could auscultate the sounds of their echoing laughter,  Fran and Ally coming upon exhibits that resulted in humorous comments,  the two finding a mutual compatibility which resonated throughout the sparsely populated corridors.  Gary finally according them both at an exit, hearing Allison say  “ Don’t tell Nana,  but you’re my favorite Grandma“,  not surprised at the comment, because together the two were in perfect concert.

   Having witnessed the magnificent museum from its conception, and through past years of expansion, taking stock that it had finally matured into a marvel of historic precedent,  giving a latent chronicle of western heritage.   Gary lagging behind his wife and granddaughter could auscultate the sounds of their echoing laughter,  Fran and Ally coming upon exhibits that resulted in humorous comments,  the two finding a mutual compatibility which resonated throughout the sparsely populated corridors.  Gary finally according them both at an exit, hearing Allison say  “ Don’t tell Nana,  but you’re my favorite Grandma“,  not surprised at the comment, because together the two were in perfect concert.

Ally, Fran and the wind

Ally at the Bass Pro Shop

And Mickey Mantle

Chris and Marlo continued to extend their hospitality, according  Gary and Fran to Brick-town,  Gary having watched the development of the antiquated buildings through the years, noting that the project had finally come to fruition.   Water diverted from the North Canadian River giving rise to a canal thru the once desolate area of town,  the  waterway canal boats giving vestige to the arising of refurbished structures.



Brick Town providing a showcase of shops and a tourist attraction,  a massive Bass Pro Shop,  the new AT and T Brick-town Ballpark adorned with the statue of Mickey Mantle, proclaiming Mantle’s Oklahoma heritage.  Gary very much impressed having lived and frequented this area of Oklahoma City forty years ago.  Recalling the past with his friend Glenn Froman,  the two walking the streets of this once unproductive part of Oklahoma City,  but now was a beneficial attribute, contributing to a city in wonderment, its antiquity having risen,  a foresight that Gary could have never envisioned.

The Winesburg family - Randy, Donna and the Grandchildren

The Winesburg family – Randy, Donna and the Grandchildren


Marlo and Kaye

Fran having made plans to spend two days with her daughter Donna, husband Randy and Grandchildren in North Richland Hills Texas before returning home, taking a morning flight from Will Rogers World Airport.   With Fran’s departure, Gary enjoying time with his daughter, being introduced to Allison’s dance studio and a congenial visit from Marlo’s mother Kaye, Gary not having seen or talked to his ex-wife in several years.

Will Rogers World Airport

With Fran’s return, a final night in Oklahoma City,  Chris providing an early morning ride to the  airport, the couple having discussed a layover in Denver. Fran having a friend, John Madden, a practicing attorney in Denver.  The two meeting in 1960‘s  when he was a member of  the renown folk group, the Serendipity Singers, the two having corresponded through the years.  The returning couple giving thought about the possibility of a layover until their arrival in Denver, finding the weather deteriorating with a forecast for snow, plus not having made any reservations for a stopover,  both weary deciding they would continue, a Denver trip postponed for another day.

Fran & Gary’s Modesto residence

With their arrival home,  Gary somewhat disappointed that neither his ore Fran’s adjusted itinerary had come to full fruition, but grateful for the meaningful time he had with his family and in the same respect accepting that the best laid plans in life aren’t always what life has planned for us.

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