Day Two in Oklahoma City and we take a trip to see the World’s Largest Milk Bottle. This leftover bit of Route 66 memorabilia is located at 2426 N. Classen Blvd and is owned by Iyhuhg, who, I am happy to report, makes the absolute best egg Vietnamese egg rolls ever. It’s really small inside the milk bottle building, which is called Banh Mi Ba Le. Their specialties are Saigon Baquette, Chicken, Roa St. BBQ Pork Subs, luncheon pork subs, grilled pork subs and meat ball subs.
We visited the memorial to the victims of the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing, which took place on April 19, 1995, and I also took pictures of a small memorial on the corner directly opposite, which also memorializes the bombing with a picture of a weeping Jesus and the cross from St. Joseph Old Cathedral, which had been installed in the east end of the church in 1909 and survived the blast, while much of the rest of the church, including priceless stained glass windows that had been in the church since the 1800s were destroyed.
Each victim of the bombing has an individual chair-like monument with his or her name etched on it, and there is a shallow pool, with, at one end, the exact time one minute before the blast (9:01 a.m.) and one minute after (9:03 a.m.) the blast. The blast occurred at 9:02 a.m., 168 people died, and Timothy McVeigh was ultimately executed for the senseless murder of innocent victims. While we were there, I listened to a mother of a girl named Stephanie describe how her daughter was working 2 blocks away in a law office that day and rushed to the indescribably horror of the scene. I remember that my son’s roommate, whose last name was also Wilson, lived in Oklahoma City at the time and conveyed the complete disbelief at the senseless act of domestic terrorism. There are still items left at an impromptu fence-like display to the immediate left of the entrance to the memorial.
After visiting the Memorial (and the milk bottle), we ate in El Reno at Jimmy’s, one of the three burger joints in that former Route 66 town that participates in building the World’s Biggest Hamburger every year. Onions are mashed into the hamburgers. There are 3 such places that assist the Fire Department in building the Guinness Book of World Records-holding bit. I took pictures of the 3 waitresses who didn’t flee when I entered the café. They were Ashlee Brinman (in pink shirt), Ashlee Higgins (aka “Higgie”) in brown and Sheila Cowan in green. Several others (male and female) ran and hid in the kitchen as I took the picture. A very sweet young girl named Samantha Wilkinson sold me a small homemade angel, which I told her would protect us on our trip.
Then, I read the El Reno newspaper, to learn of the sad death of Dewayne Moore, who was killed while delivering pizzas in Oklahoma City (which is about 20 miles away from El Reno). Dewayne’s father is Jeremy Moore, who apparently was valedictorian of his 1998 Calumet High School Class (what that had to do with his son’s senseless shooting, I do not know) and a brother, Josh, who is a civil contractor in Iraq. The story seemed to be more about Jeremy than DeWayne, as Jerome explained how he began to hear “it.” “On the 4th day, ‘it’ was getting louder. At the funeral home, ‘it’ embraced me. The love of God embraced me.”
The second interesting El Reno story involved a 100-mile race that had 175 participants who ran from 9 a.m. to Canadian County and ran for 29 hours, most of them. The starting line was Route 66 and Main Street in Elk City and the finish line was the Fort Reno Chapel (which I would visit that night). Bret Sholar, of the Pirana Brothers (?) was one of the organizers, but the winner was Tim Neckar of Houston.
A woman named Sarah Spelt of Pleasant Hill (east of San Francisco) was quoted as saying that this was her “50th birthday present to herself.” She ran for 25 hours straight as a birthday present to herself. Good going, Sarah. On my next multiple of 5 (2 years from now), I plan to walk the 20 yards to my refrigerator to get myself a Diet Dr. Pepper. But you keep right on running those 25 hour races. Apparently, this year, the race attracted participants from Germany, California, Arizona and Colorado, all of whom had the supreme pleasure of running for more than a day without stopping. Good on them, as the British like to say! There were 175 of these loons who ran 100 miles.
Immediately after the tragic story of the (unsolved) murder of DeWayne Moore and the 100 mile race was the story “More About Head Lice” on pp. 10 and 11B.
After dinner, we drove past the old Phillips Motel (a remnant of Route 66) and out to Fort El Reno to join Bob Warren and Jessica Wells and four sets of 20 people who were joining me (us) on a tour of the old El Reno Fort Grounds, including the cemetery. This is an 1874 military camp, which I wrote about in “Ghostly Tales of Route 66.”
More on the tour in my next correspondence from the road.