Mod Blog

Saying a Sad Farewell to the Bethany Library

Posted by on Apr 5, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

Darn it!  I hate doing posts saying goodbye to the Metro’s mid-century modern buildings, and this is the second one in a row.  This time, we are bidding farewell to the small-but-sweet Bethany Library:

bethany library

Designed by Bethany architect and Southern Nazarene University (SNU) art professor, Ray Bowman of Bowman & Nicek, the building’s original design looked like this:

bethany library rendering

A few months later, the final design appeared in the Oklahoman:

bethany library rendering 2

Interestingly, Bowman included in his plans the possibility for expanding the library in the future:

bethany library 1st plan

The 8,400 sf building was built in the developing municipal center complex and was constructed for $175,000, which included furnishings and the first 10,000 books.  In addition, the Bethany Kiwanis Club sponsored a book drive that added 15,000 volumes to the new library’s collection.  When the library opened in January 1965, here’s how the interior space was laid out:

bethany library interior layout

Visitors crossed a cute little bridge to get into the building:




Ray Bowman designed several buildings on the SNU campus, and the long awning jutting out from a simple box was certainly one of his big trademarks.  There are still several examples of this distinctive feature on the university campus:

snu building business

Back to the library….



With suburban sprawl sweeping through Bethany in the ’60s and ’70s, the library soon became one of the city’s busiest, and now the building is woefully inadequate for the heavy demands put upon it.  So, voters passed a $8.18 million bond in 2016 to construct a new building that will be three times larger than the original.  The new building’s 23,000 square feet will be able to accommodate 40 computer terminals (compared to just 11 now) for kids, teens, and adults and meeting space for 250 people.  In addition, there will be study rooms along with a drive-up drop-off window, and the library can grow its collection from 58,000 items to nearly 90,000 with the expansion.  Designed by Dewberry Architects, the new building isn’t horrible at all:

architectural rendering of proposed by Bethany library. A bond election is set for April 5.

While I understand the need for the new building, it will be sad to lose this MCM gem.  Someone please save those breeze blocks!


Saying a Sad Farewell to the Allied Building

Posted by on Mar 30, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos from the OPUBCO collection at the History Center.  Photo of demolition by Pete Brzycki.  All other photos by Lynne Rostochil.

Ever since the lovely concrete block was removed from the Allied Building (later known as the Salvation Army Building) at NW 63rd and Penn, people have been speculating about the building’s fate.  Would it be reused as offices?  Converted for commercial use?  Well, sadly none of those things happened.  Instead, this beauty, which was designed by Wright & Selby and opened in 1958, is being demolished to be replaced with two buildings and a Starbucks.  Sad, sad.

To pay proper homage to this beloved piece of mid-century modernism, here are a few photos of the building during construction and soon after it was completed:

Allied Building - vintage shot construction opubco

allied building 1959 2012.201.B0961.0072 - Copy

Allied building 1959 2012.201.B0961.0073

How sexy was all of that concrete block?  The building remained in its original condition for decades…

Allied building - Salvation Army - entry - Wright & Selby

Allied building - Salvation Army - concrete block - Wright & Selby

… until the concrete block was removed in 2014 after the building sold:

Allied Building w/o concrete block

A few weeks ago, heavy equipment was spotted in the parking lot, so I went to take a few last photos of this still-distinguished structure:

















Finally, here’s the building coming down:

allied bldg demolished 3 27 2016 pete brzycki

Go to OKCtalk to see the plans for this lot.

Broadcast Station Design in 1940

Posted by on Mar 21, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.

You find so much fun stuff on the internet!  Recently, I was wasting an afternoon browsing around and stumbled across this Pick-Ups magazine.  Although it sounds more like a sleazy smut periodical from years gone by, it was actually a publication put out by Western Electric that was “devoted to the development of sound transmission” —


This issue highlights the winners of a competition to design a 1,000-watt broadcast station.  The winner’s design is featured on the cover; his name was Louis Shulman, and he was an architecture student at New York University:

j vahlberg 3

Several New York University students won honorable mention awards for the station, but among them was OU’s own Julian Vahlberg.  Here’s his design:

j vahlberg 4

j vahlberg 1

Yeah, I know, the images could be better.

Julian Vahlberg graduated from OU in 1941 and went on to become a very successful architect in OKC and worked with his brother, Robert, for many years.  Their uncle, Walter, was also an architect, so the love of design ran in their family.  Notable projects of Julian’s include the much-loved and sadly demolished Herold Building and the very space-age Russell Babb Elementary in Harrah.

If you’d like to look at the entire Pick-Ups magazine (it’s really interesting), it’s located on

j vahlberg 2

The Plaza Tower Hotel: Designed for the Weary Travelers in Mind

Posted by on Mar 7, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Postcard from Lynne’s collection and brochure from Matt Goad’s collection.


Of all of the mid-century modern treasures we’ve lost in Oklahoma City, I really lament losing the Plaza Tower Hotel the most.  Maybe that’s because I remember driving by it quite a bit when I was a teeny tot and even then appreciating its quirky hexagonal beauty.  Sigh.

I am happy, however, that several images of the hotel remain, and our very own Matt Goad even owns a brochure, which pays homage to the building’s unusual shape in its design, from the hotel’s opening days back in 1960.  I really love it and thought you would, too.  Thanks, Matt, for sharing it!

plaza tower brochure 1

plaza tower brochure 2

Go here to learn more about this lost architectural marvel.

On the Market: A To-Die-For Mid-Mod in Midwest City

Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil

For those of you who are looking for a beautiful mod house that’s in need of a little love, this beauty in the Meadowood addition in Midwest City may be just what you’re looking for.

vollendorf house mwc ext

vollendorf house mwc meadowood

Yes, this one is low and sleek and oh so sexy with jaw dropping details that are everywhere inside and out.

vollendorf house mwc ext

When I say details, I mean things such as this beautifully crafted front door that offers titillating hints of the stunning surprises inside:

vollendorf house mwc front door

Check out this stunning main living room with gorgeous wood panelling, a dramatic fireplace, and clerestory windows:

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc living room fireplace

vollendorf house mwc living room

That’s the dining room on the other side of the incredible, one-of-a-kind screen:

vollendorf house mwc dining room divider

Here’s a detail shot of the wood, tile, and light in this beautiful space:

vollendorf house mwc detail

It’s surprising to me that this home, which was built in 1961 and is nearly 3,000 sf, has the open flow that today’s home buyer is looking for.  On the other side of the fireplace is a breakfast room/den overlooking the huge back patio on one side and the kitchen on the other:

vollendorf house mwc den

One of the most spectacular parts of the home is the all-original and well-appointed kitchen:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

There is SO much cabinet space and storage in this L-shaped space that includes a little desk, two large pantry spaces, and cabinets that carry the same spine-like pattern:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen desk counter

vollendorf house mwc cabinet detail pulls

vollendorf house mwc kitchen cabinet detail

And those pulls!

vollendorf house mwc kitchen pull

Even sexier than those are the original Chambers stove and double ovens:

vollendorf house mwc chambers stove

vollendorf house mwc chambers stove

vollendorf house mwc chambers oven

vollendorf house mwc chambers oven

You can’t kill a Chambers, so I’m sure that these appliances work as well now as they did when they were freshly installed.  Oh how I love them … almost as much as I love all of the counter space in this beautifully planned kitchen:

vollendorf house mwc kitchen

If you aren’t already drooling uncontrollably, this kitchen also contains the much-coveted built-in Nu-Tone appliance center — be still my heart!

vollendorf house mwc mixer built-in

I’ve always wanted one of those babies.  Off the kitchen is the garage, in which the architect thoughtfully added a skylight to brighten up the space — I like:

vollendorf house mwc garage

This house boasts a true mother-in-law plan with a large bedroom/den on the kitchen side of the house:

vollendorf house mwc bedroom

When I tell you there is a lot of storage in this house, I mean it.  There are cabinets, drawers, and built-ins tucked away everywhere, including the closets:

vollendorf house mwc built-ins closet

The bathroom on the MIL side is small but so spunky with pink fixtures and a dark tile that crawls up the walls from the floor:

vollendorf house mwc bathroom

vollendorf house mwc pink sink toilet bathroom

How great is that?

On the other side of the living room, the bedroom wing contains two large kids’ bedrooms…

vollendorf house mwc bedroom

… and one of the coolest bathroom set-ups I’ve ever seen.  Off of the hall is a pretty fantastic bathroom with a skylight hovering over an amazing shower/tub combo:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower skylight

The tile is SO fantastic — my photos really don’t do it justice at all.  And, the best part is that it’s in great condition!  The vanity area in the bathroom is very spacious, too, with the cabinet pattern from the kitchen repeating itself here:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom sinks vanity

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom tile shower sinks detail

A door from this bathroom leads to another vanity area in the master bedroom:

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom vanity

Yes, those are lights built into the mirror like a backstage dressing room — how great are they?

vollendorf house mwc master bathroom vanity mirror lights

Here’s where the cool really comes in.  There’s a separate vanity area, toilet, and shower just for the master bedroom right next to this one (to the left in the photo):


So, even though it’s a compact master bath setup, the two separate vanity areas make it seem much larger.  As for the master bedroom, it’s a giant space anchored by a pretty outstanding fireplace:

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom fireplace

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom fireplace

So dreamy, isn’t it?

Okay, if you haven’t totally fallen in love with this house yet, I think the back patio and yard just might send you over the edge.  Part of the patio is covered, which I would take down and open up to create one great big outdoor space:

vollendorf house mwc screened in porch

Even with the enclosure, the outdoor patio is gigantic and runs the length of the house:

vollendorf house mwc master bedroom view porch patio

vollendorf house mwc

As beautiful as this patio is, it’s really not the best part of the backyard.  A rounded staircase leads to an equally huge yard that backs up to a creek, so there is plenty of privacy and space for tots to play, for dogs to run, or even for putting in a pool, which is exactly what I’d do.

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc

vollendorf house mwc

Yes, this is a house that was definitely built for entertaining in a big way!  I believe the original owner was Kenneth H. Flannery, Jr., who was a local builder and one-time president of the OKC Home Builders Association.  He got into some legal trouble with gambling in the mid-’60s and may have left the state — I find no mention of him in the Oklahoman after 1967.  Anyway, he built a beautiful home for himself and his family, and I really hope that a Squadder comes along and saves it from short-sighted flippers.  Priced at a mere $135,000, there is plenty of room in almost any budget to invest money to fix up this mid-century modern palace and make it shine again.  Go here to see the Zillow listing and schedule a tour of this truly unique abode that is begging for someone to rescue it.

If you’re wondering about this Midwest City neighborhood, here’s a little information about it.  Meadowood was developed by Glenn Breeding and Midwest City founder, W.P. Bill Atkinson.

meadowood 1960

The neighborhood was professionally planned to be a self-contained community of 1,000 homes on tree-lined, winding streets surrounding an elementary school and near shopping and the local YMCA.

meadowood 2

The developers began selling lots in 1960, and the more modest homes in the neighborhood started in the $13,500 range, which is about $111,000 today.

meadowood neighborhood mwc screen

meadowood neighborhood mwc storybook

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc screen

Meadowood also contains several streets of grander custom-built homes on much larger lots — this week’s featured house is one of them and is on the prettiest street in the neighborhood, I think.  Here are a few of the homes on Glenoaks:

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc

meadowood neighborhood mwc ranch


Not too shabby, aye?  I drove all around Meadowood, and the homes are all very well maintained — there are some pretty outstanding examples of mid-century modern architecture, too, especially this gem around the corner:


The sun was in the wrong spot for me to capture this home in all of its glory — here’s a better shot from the tax assessor site:


Pretty fantastic, aye?  Also, there’s another Vollendorf house in the neighborhood:

meadowood neighborhood mwc vollendorf

meadowood neighborhood mwc vollendorf

It’s not easy to capture the true coolness of this house — here’s another tax assessor shot that shows the home in better detail:


Here are a few more Meadowood treasures:

meadowood neighborhood mwc



Located just minutes from the hubbub of downtown, Bricktown, and Midtown, Meadowood is a great alternative to pricier parts of town.  Check it out!

meadowood mwc neighborhood sign

OKC’s Beatnik Hangouts: The Gourd and Buddhi

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos not credited came from doing internet searches.  

Several years ago, my mom gave me a pile of ephemera from her high school and young married days in the early 1960s.  One piece of paper particularly interested me — a yellowed menu from a place called the Buddhi:

buddhi menu

buddhi menu

(Lynne’s collection)

I had never heard of the place, asked my mom about it, and was surprised when she said that she and my dad hung out there quite a bit, sipping on Cokes (because neither of them were big coffee drinkers), and catching many a performance by up and coming folk musicians.  Intrigued, I decided to find out more about the Buddhi.

The story of the Buddhi actually starts with a previous incarnation of the coffee house, the Gourd, which was located at 53 Broadway Circle in Midtown — here’s a photo of the Gourd in 1960:

gourd 1960

OU student Steve Brainard and his father, who everyone lovingly referred to as Pops, opened the Gourd when Steve decided to drop out of college to pursue a career as a folk musician.

steve brainard

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

Pops and Steve rented an old ice house and “Steve hung jute netting to hide the cracking plaster and ceiling, built a raised ‘stage’ at one end and hung lawn lights to shine on it”  Despite the sparse decor and luckily for Steve and Pops, folk music was at the height of its ’60s popularity and the small club that seated a mere 50-60 patrons and charged just $.50 admission opened in 1959 to instant success.  Soon, three of Steve’s buddies — Mason Williams, Baxter Taylor, and Bill Cheatwood — came on board as the house band, the Wayfarers Trio.  The three even recorded an album at the tiny coffeehouse, “Folk Music As Heard at the Gourd”:


Here’s a photo of the Wayfarers Trio (l to r: Bill Cheatwood, Baxter Taylor, and Mason Williams) performing at the Gourd with friends Johnny Horton and owner Steve Brainard:


(Baxter Taylor collection)

By early 1961, the Gourd had attracted so much attention and was so favorably compared to other establishments around the country that a detailed sketch of the place was recorded in the Oklahoman by a travelling Beatnik named John Gumm, who wrote an article comparing the Gourd to some of the coffeehouses in Chicago.  He stated that the Gourd, “gave no clue (to its importance on the national folk music scene).  Here were the candle lights, the rough decor, the easy atmosphere, the bitter coffee, the folk singing and the recorded music of any coffee house.  The waitress was sensational, but neatly groomed.  The walls — behind the burlap draping, the bullfight posters, and the candle smoke drawings — were unfinished.  The cement floor was (and is) about as even as a Wichita Mountains trail.”

The reporter went on to talk about Steve Brainard, saying that “I have never seen a folk entertainer who was able to gain so uncanny a rapport with an audience.  Aside from his command of the guitar and banjo and his soft tenor voice, Steve just has the personality to turn casual listeners into ‘enthralled’ regulars.”

steve brainard2

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

By the time the article appeared, however, Steve Brainard had moved on from the Gourd to open the much larger Buddhi a few blocks away at 919 N. Hudson.  Under new ownership, the Gourd became the Abstract Coffeehouse, but the tiny venue didn’t last long:

gourd abstract ad 11-61

As for the Buddhi, the new coffeehouse boasted a bigger stage and seating for 200, and for the price of a movie ticket, fans could enjoy the musical musings of such future superstars as Judy Collins:

judy collins 2

Poor Judy.  The first Oklahoman ad I found of her appearing at the Buddhi contained this unfortunate but pretty funny typo:

judy collins dudy ad buddhi

Uh oh!  By the next edition of the paper, it had thankfully been corrected:

judy collins ad buddhi

Judy obviously was good natured about the incident and appeared at the Buddhi many more times over the next few years, even hosting a few special children’s concerts on otherwise quiet Sunday afternoons at the club.  Children’s concerts weren’t the only “extras” that the Buddhi offered.  During the day when there were no concerts, judo classes were offered to anyone interested in attending.  Also, a series of “Self Expression Workshops” took place in which actors, singers, dancers, instrumentalists, composers, writers, poets, artists, and photographers were invited to “display their wares in this completely artistic endeavor.”  The idea was to have all of these creative minds come together on a Sunday to come up with some kind of performance/show/reading that would be performed on Monday before a live audience.  Sounds daunting but a whopping 56 artists signed up to do the first workshop, and after the performance, one event organizer enthusiastically exclaimed that “talent is running wild in the streets of Oklahoma!”  Apparently so, because the Self Expression Workshop became a semi-annual and very successful event at the Buddhi.

Two of my personal favorite musicians who played at the Buddhi were native Oklahoman and all-’round awesome guy, Hoyt Axton and the bluesy, husky-voiced Judy Henske (click their names to listen to a track by each).  All of the women in my family have had huge, lifelong crushes on Hoyt Axton:

hoyt axton

I mean, how cute and cuddly and sweet and good natured was this guy?!  Sure do miss him….

Other performers who played at the Buddhi were Pete Seeger …

pete seeger

… and perennial 1960s favorites, the hilarious Smothers Brothers before they hit the big time with their controversial and totally innovative TV show at the end of the decade:

smothers brothers

Steve Brainard was drafted into the Army not long after the Buddhi opened and returned often until he decided to make the move to California to pursue his musical career even further.  The Buddhi closed for a bit in 1964 then reopened with Pops running the place alone.  It must have been renamed the New Buddhi then:

buddhi bob grossman

(Oklahoma’s Coffee Houses and Folk Music Era Facebook page)

After a couple more years, Pops closed the still-popular coffeehouse for good in about 1968.  One other 1960s coffeehouse, the Black Brick, which was famous for its non-alcoholic fruity drinks and loungy floor pillows where people could relax and hang out, may have been located where the Blue Door is now.  It lasted a bit longer but I believe it closed in the early 1970s.

As for Steve Brainard, he continued with his music until settling down to get married and have kids.  He eventually ended up back in Oklahoma in Guthrie.  Here’s a last photo of Steve and the Wayfarers gang preparing for a performance at the Buddhi in 1961:

wayfarers 1961

(OPUBCO collection at The History Center)

You can read more about the Gourd and Buddhi and the acts that played at each place here.  Also, local writer and photographer John Gumm wrote a several-part article about Beatnik hangouts around the U.S. — read his entry about the Gourd here:

brainard 1 final 2

brainard 1 - final gourd buddhi

brainard 2 final

brainard 2 final 2

brainard 3 final

brainard 4 final

brainard 5 final

Signs o’ the Times in Small Town Oklahoma

Posted by on Feb 17, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

On a recent girls’ trip to a secluded cabin in the eastern part of the state, I marked two great vintage signs off my must-see list — the deliciously Googie Isle of Capri, which has been a mainstay in Krebs since 1950:


… and the stunning End of Trail Motel sign in Broken Bow:


These are just two of a plethora of great signs located in small towns all across Oklahoma.  I have dozens more that I’ve “collected” over the years, including several in Bartlesville:


Murphy’s Steakhouse is a true Bartlesville icon and is home to the famous hot hamburger — you can try the recipe for this gut buster at home if you dare!


Sadly, the Limey was closed and long gone when I took this photo, but the cheerful sign still spins in its efforts to advertise … well, nothing.


I love the Googie greatness of the Comanche Center sign, don’t you?


The Traveler’s Motel sign isn’t too shabby, either.

I took these on a trip to Muskogee in 2010:


This beautifully restored sign in downtown Muskogee, OK, received the Downtown Mainstreet Best Sign award in 2009. Here’s what the Main Street newsletter said about the sign:

“The black metal sign with neon tubing and diamond design projected from the Surety Building above the corner of Third and Broadway for over 90 years. After four generations of family ownership, the jewelry store closed over 30 years ago. However, the sign remained a landmark in Muskogee. Martha Griffin, who rents the space where McEntee’s was, received permission from the building’s owners to restore the sign. She incurred the expense herself as a gift to the community. Work included removing the sign, simply cleaning the surface, replacing the neon gas, and reinstalling it. As the nomination states, ‘It took several attempts to get the neon to work properly, but the sign now provides a beautiful glow over a very historic corner of Muskogee’s downtown.'”

The eight-story Surety Building where McEntee’s Diamonds lived for decades was built in 1910 for the Southern Surety Company. It was added to the National Register in 1986, and, after being vacant for years, was converted into an apartment building. It looks like it’s in great shape today.


There was talk a few years ago of restoring the circa 1922 Muskogee Hotel and turning it into artist space, but I’m not sure if that has happened.


Sadly, a 2007 fire destroyed the cluster of beautiful gingerbread buildings that made up this business in downtown Muskogee, and the ruins and sign came down a couple of years ago from what I hear.


The very original Trail Motel in Enid is one of my favorite mom and pop places to stay, and the sign is so fun!  And how great are these gems in McAlester?



I love these beauties in Chickasha, too:




And you have to love a little God Mod neon, like this one in Healdton:


The long-gone Eagle Park in Cache is still remembered through these wonderfully rusty and crusty leftovers:



The trading post is still open, and you can book tours of the nearby Quanah Parker house here.

Shawnee is home to some great signage, too:






And, finally, this is one of my very favorite sign finds ever:


This sticker sign was on a window at an abandoned sheet metal and appliance repair shop in Sulphur, OK.  When I took the photo in 2010, Sulphur was a pretty bleak looking place with just a few businesses open in the downtown area.  Here’s the building as it looked then:


All of that changed when the Artesian Hotel opened, of course, and now most of the structures have been restored and are occupied.  The building that accommodated this beautiful sign for decades has been revamped, too, and this delightful piece of signage is, sadly, gone.

Such is progress.

Classic Car Badges

Posted by on Feb 8, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

I love typography.  Maybe because I love language so much, I also love the way individual letters and numbers look in all kinds of different styles.  Sleek, sharp, exaggerated, or simple, typography alone communicates so much about its subject and you don’t find that anywhere as obvious as in classic car badges:



That flowy, neat and tidy Country Squire badge tells me that this car is stylish but practical, leisurely but purposeful.  On the other hand, the capped blocked letters on the Shelby badge are all about power and strength … and, of course, the slithering cobra helps with that impression, too.

Over the years, I’ve taken hundreds of photos of the little chrome monikers attached to classic Dodges, Fords, Cadillacs, and the rest.  It always intrigues me to think that designers put so much time and effort in creating the perfect little symbol and type for their latest models to perfectly encapsulate the car’s function and attract its perfect audience.  They are so interesting and fun compared to the bland and boring substitutes we get now:



Yuck … let’s get back to the fun stuff.  This one has to be one of the very best badges EVER:


Everything about the butt of this lovely Chrysler makes my heart sing, and the badge is tops!  Here’s another favorite:


… and a few more:






And I love this trio from the Corvair family:




And I always love anything rusty and crusty:



impala badge chevrolet


These are pretty amazing, too:





star chief badge

And how cool is it when the symbol is incorporated into the badge like this:



The typography on these is so fun:






dodge charger badge


Finally, let’s wrap it up with one of my very favorites — a truly scary Dodge:


I have tons of these badges in my collection and will be sharing more with you soon.




Fay Taylor, Fashion Illustrator Extraordinaire

Posted by on Feb 2, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and fashion photos by Lynne Rostochil, vintage images from the OPUBCO collection at the History Center


When the iconic Ruth Meyers boutique in Nichols Hills Plaza closed recently, owner Cindi Shelby conducted one last sale for the ages, and generations of loyal customers arrived to pay their last respects and share decades of happy memories with each other.   I overheard the always lovely Cindi and her numerous friends/customers laughing over wedding dress fittings and finding “the perfect one,” of designer suits purchased decades ago that remain trendy today (thank you, Calvin Klein), and of giant-sized ’80s jackets that could swallow a person whole, which made all of us giggle and wonder what on earth we were thinking:

jacket 80s

'80s jacket2

80s jacket 4

Let’s hope that particular fashion trend NEVER returns.

Anyway, all of the reminiscing was only part of the fun.  Among the mannequins, fixtures, and display pieces for sale was a huge collection of fashion illustrations by the amazing Fay Taylor:


Hundreds of pieces were piled high on every available surface in the back of the store.  Here’s a small sampling of the delicious eye candy that greeted loyal patrons hungry to take a memento from their favorite shop home:




Over a three-day period, I spent hours carefully looking at each incredible piece of artwork, trying to convince my budget that I needed to rescue every single one.  Sadly, the budget said no to that idea, but I did pick up a few treasures, including this fun beauty:


Most of the artwork was from the 1980s, but Fay actually began her collaboration with Ruth Meyers soon after the shop opened in 1975.




I love these illustrations so much because Fay’s woman is confident, happy, on the go, and so incredibly stylish — much like the dazzling Fay, Ruth, and Cindi themselves:





Fay’s two big loves — fashion and drawing — meshed early on.  According to a 1994 Oklahoman article with Fay, “her first memory of wanting to draw is when she was 8 years old and her teacher called her to the blackboard. While she was waiting for the teacher’s instructions, she picked up a piece of blue chalk and started to sketch.  ‘I was so attracted to that blue chalk,’ Taylor recalled during an interview in her home studio in Oklahoma City. ‘I started to draw a high-heel shoe. I always loved shoes. ‘”


Once she began drawing, Fay found her passion in life and and was off and running.  However, at the time, no school offered fashion illustration classes so she had to learn everything on her own.  In the Oklahoman article, she recalled one experience with a boss during her early years as a fashion illustrator: “(he) remarked that the hands Taylor had drawn on a figure looked like ‘dead fish.’ She has since mastered the art of drawing hands. Taylor laughs about that critique now, but she said it was devastating to hear at the time.”

I think she definitely got the hands thing down, don’t you?




Fay’s career kicked off when she was hired as an artist for a retailer in Kansas City.  In Oklahoma City, she worked as the head artist for Kerr’s and later for John A. Brown’s, while also writing and illustrating a weekly column in the Sunday Oklahoman.  Here’s one of her first columns and sketches for the newspaper from 1941:

f ok

f ok

I love this column from 1964:

ft fashion advice 1964

ft fashion advice 2

ft fashion advice 3

Unencumbered with a husband or kids, Fay enjoyed a life of fashion, glamour, and travel.

fay taylor

For a few years, she lived in Dallas and freelanced for Sanger Brothers and the Dallas Times Herald.  She also spent time in California as an illustrator for I. Magnin, but Fay loved life in Oklahoma City and returned home to be near friends and family.







After her return, Fay opened Fay Taylor Books & Gallery in the shiny new Shepherd Mall in 1964.  Two of her nephews ran the shop, which often featured her watercolors and work by artists from all over the state.  She also carried a wide selection of art books and beautifully curated gift items.  The store was around for awhile, but I found no mention of it in the Oklahoman after 1967, so I assume that it closed that year.







How lovely are these brides?








Fay used a combination of pen and ink, watercolors, and pastels for her distinctive illustrations:




This one just screams ’80s with that funky ‘do and those green tights!



According to the Oklahoman profile on Fay, “When Taylor draws, she listens to classical music – ‘Especially if the drawing is not going right. I’ll get up and put on Chopin or something soothing. Then I just come back and start drawing again.  I can’t worry about, will this sell? Will they like it? I forget about all that and just draw and look out the window now and then and watch the squirrels run around. ‘”







She even replicated fashion accessories in beautiful detail:









Perhaps Fay’s biggest talent was for capturing the true likeness of fur.  In each of her illustrations of a fur cap or coat, the garment looks so textured and real that you have to refrain from petting it.  Amazing!




Is your head about to explode yet?




Fay’s women are confident, carefree, and in a constant state of motion with their beautifully coiffed hair blowing oh-so-perfectly in the presumed Oklahoma wind.




I can just say that my hair has NEVER looked that lovely blowing in the wind; instead, it slaps me in the face, gets caught in my eyelashes, and looks like a discombobulated mess.  Obviously and much to my regret, I’m not a Fay kind of girl — darn it!

Her ladies look perfect in loungy clothing:



… or all dressed up with somewhere to go:




After the equally stylish Ruth Meyers opened her boutique in the tony Nichols Hills Plaza, she hired Fay to illustrate the store’s designer fashions in 1976.  It was a symbiotic partnership that would last the rest of Fay’s career.  OKC’s fashion trifecta of Ruth, Cindi, and Fay is on full display at an ’80s event:

fay and ruth 1986

And here’s Ruth hard at work in her shop:

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Cindi recalls one work trip to New York City with her two fashion powerhouse friends.  The trio had just arrived in town and their car pulled up to drop them off somewhere.  When Ruth and Fay got out of the car, every head turned in their direction to check out the two elegant fashionistas, assuming that they surely must be famous.  They were so stylish and such a strong presence that the two ladies from Oklahoma made everyone else on the busy Big Apple street look dull in comparison.







Fay loved hats!  “I don’t feel totally dressed unless I have a hat on,” she said during her 1994 interview with the Oklahoman.  That love is in evidence in many of her drawings of behatted lovelies:










Fay retired for a short time in the mid-’90s but couldn’t stand being idle and soon went back to work with Ruth.  Here she is at work in her beautiful home overlooking the Quail Creek golf course:

fay taylor artwork 1994

I think that every one of her creations is really Fay herself, don’t you?





Over the years, the prolific Fay saw her illustrations in appear in such revered fashion and style publications as Vogue, Town and Country, and Harper’s Bazaar.









In addition to all of her other work, Fay was a founding member and the regional president of Fashion Group International, an organization for women in the fashion industry.





In 1991, Fay was honored with the Byliner Award by the OKC chapter of Women in Communications.






Here’s one of those giant ’80s jackets I mentioned at the beginning of the article.  Somehow, it doesn’t look so exaggerated and impossible through Fay’s eyes, does it?


This one was my very favorite of all of Fay’s art at the sale:


And how cute are these holiday illustrations?





One of the giant scrapbooks at the sale that was packed full of Fay’s work that appeared in the Oklahoman:


Fay Taylor died in 2000 at the age of 89.  I find it remarkable that, when most women of her generation were supposed to be contented with domestic life, Fay vehemently rejected that limited notion of women’s capabilities and blazed a path of her own in a male-dominated workplace … and she did it so successfully and with a great deal of class, too.  She was certainly a pioneer and a woman to admire.

fay taylor 1991

Thanks to Holly and McKenzie Carlin for allowing me to photograph their Fay illustrations.  Also, a special thanks goes to Cindi Shelby for sharing her sweet memories of Ruth and Fay and for being such an icon herself.  You will be seeing her soon in a new space, so stay tuned!


The Drawings of Garth Kennedy

Posted by on Jan 24, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

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Last fall, the beautiful mod treehouse in Forest Park that engineer Garth Kennedy designed for himself and his family sold with all of its contents intact.  Realtor Monty Milburn kindly opened the house to visitors before the house sold, and what a treat that was!  View photos of the house on the Mod Blog.  In addition, Monty discovered a pile of architectural renderings and drawings by Kennedy and allowed me to photograph them to share with you.  As far as I know, all of these are unbuilt projects.  First up are drawings from 1985 for the Omnitheater:

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Here are drawings for a vacation cabin for the Glenn H. Moore family that were likely completed before 1955:

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And check out this rendering for an office for Dr. G. McBride, Jr.:

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And how great is this lake house?

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Yeah, I love that one a lot, but this one to be built on the shores of Grand Lake is even better … and it’s in color, too:

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Next up is a plan for a home addition for Dr. Gifford McBride from 1975:

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And here are a couple of plans for mountain cabins:

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Here’s the second one:

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And, finally, here are a few drawings Kennedy made of his own beloved home:

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I’d like to thank Monty Milburn for loaning me these plans to photograph — they are a true treasure!