Mod Blog

Living for the Very, Very Young Homemakers

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

by Lynne Rostochil

I am the least crafty person on the planet, but every holiday season I make a gallant but ultimately pathetic attempt to create something in the spirit of the season.  The project may be a painted ornament or a centerpiece or even a mod gingerbread house like this one I made a few years ago:

I didn’t have any ideas for this year and decided to look through some vintage magazines in my collection for ideas.  Well, I didn’t find a craft project, but I did find some pretty crazy photo spreads in the December 1960 issue of Living For Young Homemakers magazine that I just had to share with you.

This first set of images is pretty sweet and shows a bunch of tots dressed in their best attire and celebrating the holidays with a “punch-and-cooky” party, showing that “hospitality is a lesson being learned by the youngest of merrymakers.”

Here’s where things get fun.  In another article, photographer Burt Owen created scenes of daily life with dolls taking the place of actual people.  The images look like something out of an especially creepy “Twilight Zone” episode and definitely reinforce antiquated stereotypes, but they are fascinating nonetheless.

After looking at these most unusual images, I completely forgot all about my craft project and had to scan and share this crazy find with you.  This is way more fun than getting my fingers stuck together with glittered glue as I clumsily try to get crafty, anyway.

Holiday Shopping Guide 2017

Posted by on Nov 29, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil

Thanksgiving is over and the frenzy of holiday shopping has begun in earnest!  If you’re still making your shopping list, here are a few gift ideas for the modern lover in your life.

1.  Give the gift of Goff

This year, former Bruce Goff student and Professor Emeritus of Architecture at OU, Arn Henderson, finally published his highly anticipated and very thorough homage to Goff and his amazing body of work.  Although Goff never received a degree, Frank Lloyd Wright stated that the architect was “one of the most talented members of the group of young architects devoted to an indigenous architecture for America.”  Unlike some of the more academic (i.e., unreadable) architecture books in my collection, Henderson’s book is highly readable and very insightful at the same time, and, of course, it helps that there are a ton of great photos to provide entertaining eye candy, too.  This beautiful tome a must-have for any architecture lover.

2.  Spruce up your outdoor space

Koby Click, who owns and operates Space. 20th Century Modern has put his mod-loving aesthetic to work in designing and producing his unique take on the outdoor fireplace.  Comprised of a series of sharp angles from head to toe, the fireplaces are made of thick steel in a variety of dramatic patinas that will certainly weather a lifetime or two of use.  If these massive fireplaces are too large for your space, Koby is also making smaller, table-top versions that can be used as incense burners.  Pop by his shop and have a look at these beauties, and I’m sure you’ll walk away with one or two.

3.  Ogle over a few (hundred) signs

If you love vintage signs, roadside architecture, and mid-century modern buildings, you likely know all about Debra Jane Seltzer and her amazingly thorough and very fun website,   I don’t go on any road trip without first consulting Debra Jane’s site and making a list of all of the places to see on the way to my destination — and, best of all, she’s a Squadder, too!  So, I was especially excited when she released her first book, Vintage Signs of America, a few months ago.   Not only has Debra Jane documented signs from around the country, but she also knows the detailed history about most of them and shares all of her knowledge with her readers.  It’s a great resource guide, and, in case you’re wondering, several Oklahoma signs made the cut!

4.  Get a little sudsy

Normally, I’m not very girlie and don’t go for fancy toiletries and sundries, but when I spotted these handmade, wool-wrapped soaps at [HIVE], the beautifully curated and eclectic gift shop at [Artspace] at Untitled, I just had to have them.  I will reluctantly part with a couple of them to stuff a few stockings, but I’m keeping the rest for myself.  They are lovely to look at, smell great, and are locally made with all-natural ingredients.  What’s not to love about that?  Supplies are limited, so pick up a bar or two or 10 before they run out!

4.  Embrace the Kitsch

A lot of really wonderful books have come out this year, which is why reading materials make up half of this year’s list.  One of my favorites is by our friend, Charles Phoenix, who made an exciting appearance at this year’s Oklahoma Modernism Weekend in June and charmed everyone he met.  His new book, Addicted to Americana: Celebrating Classic and Kitschy American Life & Style is 176 pages of pure and very exuberant fun and even features Route 66’s Desert Hills Motel sign on the cover — way to go, Tulsa!  Inside, readers will learn all about how Charles created his niche career after finding a shoe box of slides labeled “Trip Across the U.S., 1957”  at a thrift store.  This book is as delightful as Charles himself and would make a great addition to any library.

5.  Invest in a dream

One of the most exciting things to happen in OKC’s thriving art scene this year is the creation of SHIFT by Factory Obscura.  Modeled after Meow Wolf in Santa Fe, the interactive and oh-so-fun exhibition opened at Current Studio a few weeks ago and has been a huge hit — best of all, it’s free!  The organizers would like to create a permanent and much larger SHIFT in the metro and are looking for the public’s help in making their dream come to fruition.  So, if you’d like to give to a good cause in the name of the mod person in your life, consider this as a possibility.  Go here to donate.

6.  Relive the glory days of the mom and pop motel

If you love the cover of this incredible sophomore effort by California’s own Heather David, you will be enthralled by everything inside Motel California, I promise!  Heather has spent years scouring flea markets and antique shops in search of rarely seen vintage postcards, photographs, and ephemera and has researched the history of the hundreds of mid-century-era motels scattered around her home state and compiled all of that into this very informative and entertaining book.  And if you were a kid who couldn’t wait to get to your vacation motel room and put a quarter into the Magic Fingers machine to enjoy your bed growling and rumbling to life, you will love learning all about the history of the company … and where you can find rooms that still boast beds with the technology.

7.  Go for a little color

If you need to add a little color to your life, I highly recommend a visit to Tariq at Abracadabra.  Not only does he carry a plethora of mid-century modern furnishings, pottery, and glass, but he’s also a very talented and adventurous artist who isn’t the least bit afraid of covering his bold compositions with plenty of exciting color.  One of his works would be just the thing to liven up a mod pad for the holidays.

8.  Learn all about Wanda

One of Oklahoma’s best treasures is surely the incomparable Wanda Jackson, and her recently released autobiography, with a forward by the one and only Elvis Costello, is out just in time for the holidays.  If you get a copy of her book here, you will receive a signed bookplated hard cover edition of what will surely become a must-read rock and roll classic.

9.  Support OKC mod

Yeah, I’m doing a little self promoting on this one, but what local mod lover wouldn’t enjoy a copy of OKC’s Mid-Century Modern Architecture?  You can even get a set of postcard images from the book and frame them or share them with friends.  Proceeds from book sales will go toward future Okie Mod Squad projects.

10. Pick up a mid-century modern goodie

If you’re looking for an authentic mid-century modern piece, visit Joe and Mark at RemodernOK in the Paseo and Mike at RetrOKC in the Plaza District.  You will find everything from dishes to lamps to furniture to holiday items in their glorious shops.  Plan to spend a long time looking around both places because there is so much to look at and lust over!

11.  Snap up some groovy wrapping paper

Of course, you need to wrap your mod gift with the perfect wrapping paper and you can’t find anything cooler than this year’s batch from the Wrap Up Homelessness collection.  All of the proceeds from the paper goes to publishing the Curbside Chronicle, which employs and empowers men and women transitioning out of homelessness in the metro.  This year, Wayne Coyne created the starring wrapping paper for the project (above), with 10 other local artists contributing designs to the project.  Featured artists include Ashley Dawn, Edgardo George and Lance King, Gayle Curry, Jack Fowler, Sean Vali, Lauren Miller, Natalie Kent, Peggy White, Steven Paul Judd, and Tiffany McKnight.

Pick up your paper at these local retailers.

Turkey Days Gone By

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos from the Oklahoma History Center.

Of all of the holidays, Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite.  It’s the one holiday that remains relatively untouched by consumerism and offers us the rare opportunity to press the Pause button on life and take stock of all of the things that make us happy and grateful.  The only goal of the day is surrounding yourself with loved ones and good food and maybe taking in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and football.  What’s not to love about that?

So, to celebrate the day, I’ve compiled some images from the Oklahoma History Center’s vast photographic archive of Thanksgivings past to get you in the spirit for all of the fun.

Thanksgiving is all about (hopefully happy) reunions, like this one from 1955:

And this one from 1953, in which Vernon Cowan was spending his first holiday home after being released from a Korean POW camp:

Yeah, he knows all about being thankful after that experience, I’m sure.  If you’re the crafty type and want to take on more than just cooking for Thanksgiving, why not try making one of these delightful table centerpieces:

Alas, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body, but I can make a mean turkey just like this lovely lady did back in 1950:

Delicious … although these guys don’t think so:

And what’s Thanksgiving without making pilgrim hats out of construction paper and putting on a little show?

Does the cute boy on the left look familiar?  In the newspaper caption, he’s identified as Joey Slack, who has grown up to be one of the most talented and best-known local artists, the incomparable Joe Slack.

Finally, if you like a little cheesecake with your turkey, here’s a cute one from 1948:

If you love old movies and TV shows, she might be familiar to you, too.  She is Phyllis Coates, who would go on to play Lois Lane opposite George Reeves in the movie, “Superman and the Mole Men” and the first season of the TV series, “Superman”:

After the first season, Phyllis left the show and was replaced by the Lois Lane that most of us remember, Noel Neill (who had originally appeared as Lois Lane in a few Superman movies in the late 1940s):

So, there’s your little bit of trivia for the day.  Gobble, gobble!

Hill Crest Heights: Southwest Oklahoma City’s Finest Addition

Posted by on Nov 15, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Brochure courtesy of Mike Brown.  Photos from the OK County Tax Assessor website.

I always love a good homes brochure, and Mike Brown at RetrOKC recently passed on one he found at an estate sale not too long ago.  It advertises Ferguson’s Hill Crest Heights neighborhood, which is located between S. Kentucky and Blackwelder and SW 59th and SW66th:

The modest but well-cared-for neighborhood began being developed in 1952 and homes were constructed throughout the decade.  Most of the homes featured three bedrooms, 1 1/2 baths, and one-car garages — here are more amenities they offered:

The homes in Hill Crest Heights were built in a variety of styles, from quaint cottages to ranch style to even a modest mod here and there:

The brochure includes six model homes that were available for touring.  All were located on SW 61st Terrace.

Plan 1488-C sold for a whopping $13,850 and featured two exaggerated a-line windows in front that evoked the popular Storybook style:

Here’s the 1488-C today:

The 1486-A was designed for lovers of gingerbread:

The home today:

Next up is Plan 1511-A, a modest ranch:

And the home today:

The fourth model home is quite similar but offers a larger living room and has no dining room:

Here’s the model today:

The L-shaped fifth model features a compact plan that sold for $13,100 in 1961:

The house now:

The last model, 1485-B, combines the living and dining areas and contains a closed off kitchen area:

And here’s this cutie now:

The back cover of the brochure features ads from local businesses:

Good stuff!


On the Market: A Sputnik Delight in Belle Isle

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

text and photos of home by Lynne Rostochil.  Other images identified in captions.

Last week, I got to tour a recently refreshed beauty in Belle Isle that hit the market on Sunday that has been lovingly restored by realtor Ken Hutmacher and designer Terezia Grillo with Grillo Ventures.  The duo found the original plans to the house and decided to faithfully follow them in restoring the house to its original glory.  This included building new lattices for the two front windows that had been removed long ago.  Here’s a tax assessor site photo of what the house looked like before — pretty sad and dull, aye?

The house definitely looks complete and much more appealing with the latticed windows:

The attention to detail doesn’t end there.  The front courtyard is a mid-century lover’s dream, with rock, beautifully matured palms, and a fab mod mailbox … in turquoise, of course:

And check out the fantastic and all-original zig-zagged walkway:

How snazzy is that?  This lovely 1,800 sf home was designed by Rex Whiting, Jr., very solidly built by Jack Clark, and constructed in 1963.  I had never heard of Whiting before and decided to do a little research about him.  He served during WWII as a Corporal in the 82nd Airborne Division and, after the end of hostilities, returned to his hometown to work with his dad, who was a building contractor.  Soon, he was designing homes.  Even though he was never a licensed architect, the stalwart Whiting’s attention to detail and passion for design made his homes popular destinations on several Parade of Homes tours in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s.  According to his son, who is also a home builder, Whiting was quite prolific, designing 300-500 mostly traditionally-styled homes a year during his heyday.

One more modern home that Whiting designed was a longtime favorite of mine until it got botched a few years ago.  The mod lake house was featured as a “plan of the week” in the Oklahoman and was constructed just one year after our Belle Isle beauty in 1964:

Here’s a close up of that house:

It was long one of my favorite homes in the Silver Lake/Ski Island area — here’s what it looked like in 2002:

And here’s what I mean by botched — I can’t stand it!

Pathetic.  But, I’m happy to say that the same ISN’T the case with the Belle Isle house.  Nope, not at all.  I mean look at the perfect front door for this place — if you didn’t know any better, you’d think that it’s been there for decades, it fits so perfectly with the home:

Inside, things get even better with the all original sputnik ceiling fixture, terrazzo floors, and lattice dividers that dramatically offset the entry from the other parts of the home:

Let’s take a closer look at that gorgeous sputnik:

I mean, really, there’s no sexier lighting fixture than this, in my opinion.  Love it!  And, there are two of these babies in the house!

Here’s the view from the entry into the giant living room that overlooks a lush green backyard beyond:

Here’s another view of the living room with another all-original feature, a mod rocked fireplace trimmed in terrazzo:

That fireplace is so elegant and packs a big wow at the same time.  Originally, the room had a dropped ceiling, but Ken and Terezia vaulted it to add even more drama to the space and to make the already large room appear even bigger.  Off of the living room is a separate dining area with a new light fixture that looks right at home with its sputnik uncle in the entry:

The well-appointed kitchen is off of the dining room and features a breakfast nook, original-but-fixed-up cabinetry, and quartz countertops:

The stove/oven and dishwasher are brand new and oh-so-mod:

Man, I’d love to cook on that amazing stove, wouldn’t you?

And, as you can see, the terrazzo runs throughout the common areas of the home and is in excellent condition:

There’s an ample-sized laundry room off of the kitchen that leads to the two-car garage beyond.  On the other side of the home are three bedrooms and two baths.  Ken and Terezia have remodeled both bathrooms — the master got a brand new and very roomy shower with tilework that mimics the pattern of the front door:

But I was very happy to see that Ken and Terezia kept the original countertop that perfectly matches the terrazo floor in the bathroom:

How cool is that?!

The large master bedroom has been painted a relaxing blue/gray and features two vintage pendant lamps that Ken’s dad rescued from a college library that was being botched … ugh, I mean renovated:

This is such a peaceful space, and I love how the exterior lattice provides nice shadow play in the room in the afternoon.  Very nice.

So, I told you that this house has its original plans — check out a section:

The plans come with the original building specs document, too, which is VERY rare.

So, all of this carefully restored goodness in one of the best neighborhoods in town can be yours for $325,000.  If you’re interested in touring the home or have questions, Ken is the listing agent and can be contacted at 405-204-9052.  The address is 2604 NW 61st, and you can see more photos of the home here.


Thanks, Ken and Terezia, for inviting me to tour this amazing space.  I hope you decide to restore more mod homes in the future because you obviously know what you’re doing.

On the Road: More Phoenix Tidbits

Posted by on Oct 31, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.

On the last Mod Blog, I subjected you to everything Paolo Soleri in and around Phoenix, and while that was the focus of my trip, my husband and I did check out a few other spots in the area that I thought I’d share with you.  First up is a place that any lover of mid-century modern architecture must have on his/her bucket list, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West:

Of all of our architecture adventures, this destination was definitely my non-architecture-loving husband’s favorite, and we spent quite awhile on the tour marveling at the perfection that is this place overlooking town … and electrical wires.  The wires were erected years after Wright began building this home in the late 1920s.  He was quite miffed that the unsightly wires impeded his view of the valley, so he designed an underground wire system and presented it to the city, but town leaders refused to move the wires.  Wright then decided that he would disassemble and move Taliesin West to another location, but his much more practical wife put the kibosh on that idea, deeming it much too expensive.  Wright resolved the quandary by reorienting entrances and buildings so that the best views were now toward the mountain and away from the valley, which he never wanted to see again.  Go here to read more history about this incredible property, and you’ll definitely want to read this riveting article about the adventures Wright and his gang had on their yearly excursions from Wisconsin to Arizona and back.

Here are just a few of the shots I took of the place:

The living room is beyond glorious and, originally, the room was open to the elements with the windows covered in canvas.

I loved the rock art by Wright’s pal, Clare Booth Luce:

After the devastating fire and murder at Taliesin in Wisconsin, Wright wanted to make sure that any fires could be easily extinguished in his desert home.  So, he had pools built near the kitchen, both in the front and back of the house.  This is one of them:

The intimate theater was pretty impressive, too:

I highly recommend signing up for either the first or last tour of the day to get the best light for photographing the buildings.  There’s also a night tour you can take, which will definitely be on my list for next time.  We were on the last tour of the day and hung around after the tour as the sun creeped below the horizon, creating a spectacular light dance with the home:

Another stop on our architecture tour was the dramatic Valley National Bank, located at 4401 E. Camelback Road in Scottsdale:

The bank, which is featured on the cover of Midcentury Marvels: Commercial Architecture of Phoenix, 1945-1975 (I highly recommend it),  was designed by Wright associate, Frank Henry, and was completed in 1967.

It’s a stunning mix of rock, sharp curves, and clerestory windows, and saucer-like exterior umbrellas that provide much-needed shade from the brutal sun:

Unfortunately, you can’t take photos inside this beauty, but you can definitely go in and marvel at the gorgeous design.  There’s also a plaque with a history of Henry and the bank near the vault door.  Check it out!

Another stop we made was at the David Wright house, which was designed by his dad, Frank Lloyd Wright and completed in 1952.  The spiral-shaped home on chunky stilts came close to being demolished a few years ago but is now open as a museum.  Unfortunately, when we were there, the home was closed and it looks like construction is being completed on a parking lot.  I did sneak a photo of the home through the fence, though:

Can’t wait to tour this beauty the next time we’re in town!

Next up was the glorious Biltmore Hotel in Scottsdale.  I’ve wanted to tour this place for a LONG time and was not disappointed.

Designed by Wright protege Albert Chase McArthur (with Wright as a consulting architect), the luxurious resort was completed in 1929 and has been the go-to place for presidents, movie stars, and just regular Joe’s like you and me ever since.

The pre-cast, uniquely-patterned concrete blocks were made onsite and are the hotel’s most interesting feature:

Although a room at the Biltmore is quite pricey, it’s well worth stopping and having a snack or drink and checking out this extraordinary piece of architecture.

Another hotel that is a must-see is the super hip Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale:

Located just a couple of blocks from Old Town Scottsdale, the Valley Ho was revamped a few years ago and restored to its mid-century modern splendor:

The rooms are pretty spiffy, too:

Although the rooms aren’t cheap, it is well worth splurging to stay at the Valley Ho, not only for the great atmosphere at the hotel but also because you can walk from the hotel to all of shops, restaurants (like the wonderful Italian Grotto), and galleries in Old Town.  You can also stroll to the Civic Center district, where the Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art are located.

There are so many incredible examples of mid-century modern architecture in and around Phoenix that I’m already planning my next trip to the city to take in more of the goodies there.  Can’t wait!

On the Road: Exploring the World of Paolo Soleri

Posted by on Oct 25, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

text and photos by Lynne Rostochil.  Vintage photos from the Wright Foundation and Cosanti Foundation, respectively.

For years, I’ve been more than a little obsessed with architect Paolo Soleri, his philosophy about what the urban environment should look like, and, of course, his charming bells, so I was especially excited to hear about a new exhibition of his work at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary of Art.  That gave me the perfect excuse I’ve been looking for to head to Arizona and soak up all things Soleri!

Soleri was born and went to school in Turin, Italy and discovered the wild, arid beauty of Arizona when he arrived at Taliesin West to study with Frank Lloyd Wright in 1946.   The two men didn’t see eye to eye on a lot of things.  For one, Wright’s ideas about urban planning contrasted sharply with his apprentice’s.  Wright foresaw the car-reliant, urban sprawl of the 21st century city with his plan for Broadacre City, in which the architect would be the master planner in creating open, verdant urban areas free of densely packed central districts in which the car reigned supreme.  Soleri took the complete opposite view of urban development that he called “Arcology” (architecture and ecology), which called for vertical urban areas that were densely packed with multi-use buildings where people could easily walk from home to work to just about everywhere.  Unlike Broadacre City, Soleri’s vision would use less land, reduce the strain on natural resources, and eliminate the need for a complicated, spread out infrastructure all while maximizing walkability and enhancing a sense of community.

The two men also had very different ideas about appropriate dress.  Wright was very formal and always wore a three-piece suit, even in the heat of summer:

In contrast, Soleri was much more comfortable roaming around wearing just a pair of shorts or a makeshift sarong:

At Taliesin West, all apprentices spent a considerable amount of time doing such non-architecture-related duties as cleaning, cooking, and serving the very imperious Wright and his equally formal wife, Olgivanna.  One story goes that Soleri had the audacity to serve dinner to the haughty Wrights while wearing his skimpy sarong, and that sent Mrs. Wright over the edge.  The Wrights knew that Soleri was planning to set up a school similar to theirs in Italy and wanted him out, anyway, and this was the last straw.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it makes a great story!

Through his connections, Soleri met his first real client, Nora Woods, and soon had a commission for her desert house north of Phoenix.  The glorious and amazingly original Dome House was the result, and along with the commission, Soleri scored a wife when he met and married Woods’ lovely daughter, Colley.  The pair, along with some of their friends, constructed the home — check out a short video about the place here.  Soon after the home was completed, the couple moved to Italy, where Paolo designed the dramatic Solimene Ceramics Factory, which is still in use today.

The Soleris returned to Arizona in 1956 and began construction on Cosanti, their home and first compound.  To help support themselves, Soleri began designing and producing his iconic wind bells.  Today, you can tour most of Cosanti (except for the living quarters) and, if you’re lucky, watch workers make the bells.  The foundry was closed the day we were there, but the place is truly magical and a must see if you’re in the Phoenix area — and it’s free!  Check out this skeletal structure:

And here are several examples of Soleri’s ceramic bells:

There are bells, bells, bells everywhere!  And don’t even get me started on how powerful the primitive-looking concrete architecture is.  I think that the creators of The Flintstones used Soleri’s buildings as inspiration when they were drawing Fred and Wilma’s world, I really do.

The foundry is pretty impressive, too…

… and take a look at some of the living quarters that overlook the work area:

Perhaps the most popular sight at Cosanti is the fabulous Bell Tree:

On a breezy day, which we fortunately had, the gently jangling of the bells creates a delightful aural backdrop for the jaw dropping architecture.

About 70 miles north of Phoenix is Soleri’s greatest achievement, Arcosanti.

This was the place where the architect and visionary urban planner was finally able to put his philosophies about architecture and ecology into practice.  The aptly named Arcosanti — which means “against materialism” — got off the ground when Soleri purchased 25 acres of desert land out in the middle of nowhere … and I mean NOWHERE … near Mayer, Arizona.  In 1970, the building began, and over 7,000 people have worked to construct Soleri’s “urban laboratory” in the ensuing years.

Soleri’s plan called for 25-story towers that would house 5,000 people and contain both work and recreational space, but to date, just 5% of his dream has been completed.  Even though it is modest in size, Arcosanti is as magical and mystical as its sister in the Phoenix area.  Brutalist buildings with giant circular windows are surrounded by towering cypress and honest-to-goodness olive trees that overlook a rocky desert valley and a red-rocked butte beyond.  It’s a powerful place, indeed.  The Crafts III building contains Arcosanti’s impressive gallery, the cafe, and housing for workshop students, who come from all over the world to learn about Soleri and what he accomplished here.

The cafe is especially impressive at dinnertime as the sun sets in the west:

There’s also a recreational area in the cafe that includes a piano and a chess set with bronze pieces forged at Arcosanti — these buggers were HEAVY!

The Ceramics Apse was completed in 1973.  All of the pottery bells and pots are made here:

Nearby is the Foundry Apse, where Soleri’s iconic bronze bells are produced.  We were lucky to crash a tour of the foundry being given to some guys from Canada who were visiting for a one-week workshop.  It’s quite an impressive operation, from the making of the molds using packed sand…

to the pouring of the bronze into molds…

Here, recently cast bells are awaiting assembly:

Here are more photos of the foundry and its work rooms:

Look at all of the molds that have been made for the bells:

Here’s a box of fins ready to be acid washed to create a lovely green patina:

And another kind of fin:

There’s also an arched workspace where the ceramic tiles and switchplates are made:

The first structure to be completed at Arcosanti was the South Vault, which was built in 1971 and offered a shaded area for outdoor activities and work.  The North Vault was completed four years later:

The amphitheater is surrounded by apartments and a lounge area for Arcosanti’s workshop visitors and residents:

There’s also a fantastic pool overlooking the valley if you want to cool off on a hot summer day … or, in Arizona, any day.

Underneath the pool is what will one day (hopefully) be greenhouses, along with one that they are using now:

Even before Soleri’s death at the ripe old age of 93 in 2013, construction at Arcosanti had pretty much ground to a halt due to financial restrictions, and his vision will likely never be fully realized.  But, for the 100 or so people who work here and call this communal experiment home, it remains viable and well loved.  Here are a couple more photos of Arcosanti (yes, that is a manhole cover that was made onsite) — this is really such a photogenic place that I could post 100 photos and still have more that I’d want to share with you.

My husband and I stayed the night in the guesthouse, which provides modest but clean rooms with a shared bath for a meager $40 a night/including breakfast.  The rooms don’t have air conditioning, but there is a screened door that you can open to let in cool breezes at night — it was more than comfortable for us.  And, if you want TV, you won’t find it here, but you will find plenty of other interesting guests sitting out on the front porch of the guesthouse to chat with, and that’s much better than anything the tube can offer.  Also, if you want to eat dinner at Arcosanti, it’s a whopping $10 per person/all you can eat.  There’s a bar that is sometimes open in the cafe, so if you want to be assured a drink or two, bring your own.

(You can also rent a private apartment at Arcosanti for just $95 a night from Airbnb or stay in the Sky Suite for $100 a night.)

Sunrise at Arcosanti is pretty incredible and definitely put us in a happy mood for the entire day:

The final stop on our Soleri adventure was an exhibition devoted to the architect that recently began at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary ArtRepositioning Paolo Soleri: The City is Nature runs through January 28, 2018, and includes original drawings and models, some of Soleri’s more intricate bells, and models of bridges he designed.

So, if you have a long weekend in the near future, I highly suggest taking in the exhibition and both Cosanti and Arcosanti.  You may decide, like I did, that a workshop is definitely in your future.


St. Patrick’s and Sts. Peter and Paul in Liturical Arts Magazine

Posted by on Oct 4, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  The Liturgical Arts articles and photos from the OU Architecture Library collection in Norman.  Vintage images by Julius Shulman, and the modern-day photos by Lynne Rostochil.


Last week, the Oklahoma City Foundation for Architecture sponsored a tour of one of my very favorite buildings of all time, the glorious St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on NW 19th and Portland.  This building is special for so many reasons, from the architecture itself to the manner in which it was constructed.  You can read all about the fascinating history of the church in the Mod Blog.  There’s also this Mod Blog featuring St. Patrick’s in Progressive Architecture, where one of Julius Shulman’s images of an angel made the cover.

The modern cathedral, which was designed by Robert Lawton Jones of the Tulsa firm, Murray Jones Murray, was also the subject of an article in the August 1962 issue of Liturgical Arts magazine.  Its sister, Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, is also featured in the magazine, so I thought I’d share both with you.  The article begins with an editorial (click a photo to enlarge it):


Then, there’s an article entitled “Vitality in Oklahoma,” which provides a historical context for the building of these two very modern takes on Catholic church design:

Next up is a spread on Sts. Peter and Paul, which was designed by Murray Jones Murray and is located in Tulsa.

How great are those exterior angels?  Here’s a close-up photo of them that I took a couple of years ago:

And, here’s the spread on St. Pat’s, which had recently won the first prize in the annual Spaeth-Cardinal Lercaro design competition:

Also, there’s an interesting article in the magazine about abstract art in the church:

Finally, I can never get enough of the angels at St. Pat’s and had to take tons of photos of them during the tour.  Thought I’d share a few of the images with you:

The inner sanctuary surrounded by angels.  I learned from architect Tony Blatt that the skylights in the sanctuary were covered soon after the church was completed because they leaked so badly.  They remained that way for decades until Tony and some friends came up with the idea of making a domed-shaped skylight to cover the existing ones to block out the rain.  So, now the sanctuary is as light and bright as it was the day it was constructed.

It’s such an amazing feeling to walk among the 50 angels that surround the sanctuary.

The Felix Candela-designed thin-shell concrete umbrellas that allow for such openness inside:

The Reverand Thomas McSherry has had the honor of calling both Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Patrick’s home and he’s an excellent caretaker for this stunning piece of mid-century modern architecture.  Here, he’s telling tour goers some of the interesting history of the church:

Finally, a parting shot of St. Pat’s as the sun was going down after the tour.  Even in silhouette, it’s a stunner:


The Flamingo: Bringing a Little Palm Springs to OKC

Posted by on Sep 26, 2017 in Mod Blog | No Comments

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos by Charlie Merida of Kevo Properties.

Over the last year or so, many of us have excitedly watched the transformation of the former University Manor Apartments, located at 1844 NW 23rd across from OCU.  Here’s what the building looked like in 2010 (from the Tax Assessor website):

It’s always been a building I’ve admired for its mid-century style and the repeating pattern of the walkway in front.  It’s a beautiful design and the building, which was constructed in 1961, looks like it has always been well maintained, but the bland tan paint job didn’t show off the complex to its full potential.  Well, all of that has changed in a big way with the structure’s stunning transformation from University Manor to the sleek and fabulous Flamingo:

How fun is this?  I’m so in love with all of that color, I can’t stand it!

The 32-unit complex offers 31 one-bedroom, 550-square-foot apartments and one two bed/two bath apartment, along with on-site laundry.  Inside, the light and colorful units have been completely updated and feature well-appointed kitchens (with custom-crafted dividers) and crisp, clean bathrooms.

The nice-sized living areas, which open to the kitchen, are a pleasant surprise, too:

Two couples, Jason and Sara Kate Little and Ben and Jessica Chamberlain are the brains behind this beautiful renovation, and the team was kind enough to answer a few of my questions about the project.

Why did you decide to go with a mid century theme?

Flamingo disappeared on 23rd Street before we painted it and we felt it deserved a Palm Springs style upgrade.  We chose a mid century design because it fit the lines and the era and left room for playfulness and that we thought could bring the property to life. — Jess

Do you have any original drawings or photo of the complex?

I spent hours looking through the archives at the Historical Society and never seemed to stumble upon that “needle in the haystack.”  Instead, we gained inspiration from roadside motels from Route 66 and Palm Springs, as well as Luis Barragan for his use of color and form.” — Sara Kate

What has the response been to this project?

The response has been really favorable.  It’s been really fun to see so many people get excited about the design and most surprisingly, the color.  I never thought I would have men messaging and approaching us to tell us how much they loved the pink!  It makes me very excited that our city is embracing something that is a little quirky and outside the box. — Sara Kate

Is this the first project like this you’ve done?

I consult on aesthetics for clients and Jason helps broker real estate investments for his job.  We were really looking for a way to start doing design and development projects together and so we created “Nostalgia Shoppe” as a vehicle to do that.  We partnered on this project with some of our best friends, which was fun, but we are also working on another project independently that will hopefully be live next year. — Sara Kate

We have bought and renovated several historic multi family properties in Oklahoma City but Flamingo is a unique project for us because we have collaborated with the Little’s and we have exercised a little more creativity on this renovation.  Luckily, we have a solid team of subcontractors who are willing to with us on installing a custom made metal bar cabinet or making sure we get the lighting just right or helping us bring the color palette to life.  It has been fun to let our eccentricities come through in design versus picking a safer route and even more fun collaborating with dear friends.  — Jess

Do you plan to do more projects like this?

At some point in the future there will be more projects after a respite from construction.  It was fulfilling to see the vision come to life in the end.  Ben

Well, if the Flamingo is any indication of what this dynamic team of friends can do, I can’t wait for them to get started on their next colorful, fun, and invigorating project.  If you are interested in leasing an apartment at the swanky Flamingo, contact Shawn Shafer at Kevo Properties — 818/915.3168.

In the Rearview: The Life and Times of OKC’s Most Notorious Bootlegger — Conclusion

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

by Lynne Rostochil.  Photos from the Oklahoma History Center unless otherwise stated.

This week, we wrap up the story of bootlegger, Lindsey Chambless and his cohorts in crime.  To read previous installments, go to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

“On a Job”

On the balmy evening of Thursday, July 5, 1956, Lindsey, Mary Lou, and the kids were entertaining fellow bootlegger, Seth Stone and his wife at their home across the street from the lot where Putnam City High School was about to be constructed.  I imagine that Lindsey and his family were enjoying a lazy summer week of attending fireworks demonstrations, eating fried chicken, drinking cold lemonade (likely spiked in Lindsey and Mary Lou’s case), and having watermelon seed spitting contests in their backyard.  It was summer, after all.

As the group sat down for dinner just before 7:00, the phone rang … and not the liquor store phone that Mary Lou got busted for taking orders on several months before.  Lindsey went into the living room to take the call.  When he hung up, the 40-year-old rum runner excused himself, saying that he had to go “on a job.”  Then, he grabbed his rifle and revolver and, as he was heading out the door, told Mary Lou, “If you don’t hear from me by noon on Friday, have Dave Tant (his attorney) start looking for me.  I’ll be in jail somewhere or in trouble.”

The rest of the group finished their meal, then Stone and his wife left.  Interestingly, Stone and Lindsey and recently stopped working with large wholesalers, led by big time bootlegger, Grady King, and planned to start their own rum running syndicate, which apparently wasn’t going over well with local underworld bosses.  Meet Grady King:

In fact, just a couple of weeks before on June 24th, Stone was sitting in his living room when a car drove up and shot at him through the living room window.  He fared much better than Lindsey had when he was shot; however, because the bullet barely missed Stone and the would-be assassin scrambled back to the waiting car and quickly took off.

Stone and his wife came from the Lawton area, where the bootlegger once claimed to a local reporter, “It is much more wide open than in Oklahoma City.  The girls here, well they just … uh, you know, it is wide open.  Of course, it’s an Army post town and all that.  But it looks to me like an Army post town would be more strict than other towns for this type of activity.”  His wife also lamented about the poor quality of spirits – presumably brought in by other bootleggers and not themselves – when she said, “Tell me one place you can get a fifth of Ancient Age whiskey (a high quality brand).  (The whiskey sold in Lawton) isn’t even fit to make a cocktail out of.”  Maybe that’s why the couple moved to Oklahoma City and hooked up with Lindsey – to get better quality booze and move up to the big leagues.

Lindsey Doesn’t Come Home

As the night faded into morning, Mary Lou began to worry about Lindsey.  He always called when he was out on a job, even if it lasted for days.  She should have heard from him by now.  With the kids in bed, the house clean, the dinner dishes put away, and the TV networks signed off for the night, there wasn’t much for her to do but smoke, pace, and imagine the worst.

Thursday became Friday and Friday turned into Saturday, and she still hadn’t heard from Lindsey.  The young wife’s trepidation turned into near panic, and Mary Lou knew that it was time to do the unthinkable … call the police.

Sheriff Bob Turner and Deputy “Boots” Capshaw arrived, interviewed Mary Lou, and began an investigation immediately.

(Sheriff Bob Turner after a raid in 1955.)

(“Boots” Capshaw – right – after a 1957 raid.)

Within hours, they found Lindsey’s car abandoned in the parking lot at the Municipal (now Will Rogers) Airport.  There was no evidence of a struggle; the bootlegger’s shotgun was missing but his hat and pistol remained in the car.  The pistol made police suspect the worst.  One vice squad officer who had many dealings with Lindsey over the years said, “I don’t believe Chambless would have got in another car of his own accord without his pistol….  He never trusted anybody that far, not even his good friends.”

Lindsey’s old pal in the Cuban robbery, Gene Paul Norris, was brought in for questioning but denied all involvement in the bootlegger’s disappearance.  Before he was released, however, the killer told authorities, “Don’t bother looking for Chambless.”

Immediately, informants came forward saying that Lindsey had been murdered, but as days turned into weeks and months with no sign of the missing man, others speculated that he had run off to avoid the five-year sentence looming over his head.  Capshaw told reporters, “I’m not going to speculate on whether he’s dead or alive.  I just want to know if he’s standing or lying down.”  Mary Lou’s gut told her that Lindsey was surely “lying down” somewhere.

A few months later, police uncovered a crazy gangster plot indicating that Mary Lou’s instincts might be right.   Apparently, a group of Dallas mobsters that included Lindsey’s old pal from the Cuban holdup, Gene Paul Norris, met with a few big time Oklahoma County bootleggers during OU/Texas weekend in Dallas.  Led by “the mastermind of the Oklahoma bootlegging syndicate,” Grady King, the Oklahoma gang supposedly offered to pay their Dallas friends $15,000 to kill five bootleggers in the Sooner State.  These guys are some of the players in the conspiracy — that’s Grady King signing the paper:

One of the intended victims was Seth Stone, who had fled back to Lawton after Lindsey’s disappearance because he knew he had a price on his head and the next shooter might not miss him.

By eliminating these five competitors, the two gangland groups led by Grady and Norris reasoned that the bootlegging wars could end and they would take over the entire Oklahoma operation for themselves.  However, their plan derailed when one of their hired guns turned out to be good friends with one of the intended marks and told him all about the nefarious murder plan.  In a plot twist straight out of a Hitchcock thriller, the intended victim and his supposed assassin then schemed to double cross their bosses.  The assassin would go back to Norris with some of the victim’s possessions as proof that he killed his target, get paid for the assassination, and the two friends would split the proceeds.

With all of the plotting, planning, and scheming going on, it’s no big surprise that someone blabbed to the wrong person and the police found out about this latest and most daring episode of the bootlegging wars.  Since the plan took place so soon after Lindsey’s disappearance, authorities suspected that he may have been the first hit in this crazy plot for control and one detective told reporters, “We intend to break the back of that outfit before anything else happens.”  As for the double crossers, it was never a good idea to go against Norris, and, not surprisingly, one of them soon ended up in a ditch.

Although Grady King and his associates were arrested…

… they were soon released for lack of evidence.

Meanwhile, with no one to support her and the kids, Mary Lou lost their house out in the country and moved to Cisco, Texas, to be near her mother and Lindsey’s former flame, Stella.  Looking for a fresh start in life after her divorce from Lindsey, Stella had moved to the small town in 1949 and was working as a waitress in a popular café.  There, she met a local mechanic and World War II vet named Robert Massey, who was a widower 10 years her senior.  The two married in 1953 and, grateful for the quiet of her new life, Stella quickly settled into small-town life and became a regular fixture at the local Methodist Church.

Mary Lou still had to face charges of running a liquor store out of her Oklahoma City, home, though.  After a short trial in the spring of 1957, the young mother was found guilty and given probation.  As for Lindsey, he was still nowhere to be found, although rumors swirled that he was in Mexico, San Antonio, Lawton, Wichita Falls, back in Oklahoma City, or buried somewhere in the Arbuckles.

The wild rumors were put to rest, however, on that rainy November night over a year after Lindsey’s abrupt disappearance when Sheriff Turner, Deputy Capshaw, and FBI agent, D.A. “Jelly” Bryce found the rum runner’s decomposed body in the shallow grave on the Rowland farm not far from where they had found Lindsey’s car at the airport 17 months before.  The cat-and-mouse game that they and the “Flying Bootlegger” had been playing for decades was finally over.

Norris Seeks Revenge

When police examined the remains of Lindsey Chambless, they found that he had been shot twice (once in the head and once in the hip) and had received a “crushing blow to the head,” according to the Oklahoman and Lindsey’s death certificate:


Lindsey’s wife, Mary Lou, and his sister were among the handful of mourners at the bootlegger’s graveside as he was laid to rest less than 10 miles from where his car was found at the airport the year before.  There is no marker on his grave.


While police highly suspected that Gene Paul Norris either hired someone to take out Lindsey or, since he was known as “the Smiling Killer” and had been seen in Oklahoma City at the time of Lindsey’s disappearance, pulled the trigger himself, they had no evidence.  Either way, karma finally caught up with the charming but cold-blooded gangster, who law enforcement in Texas and Oklahoma called the “most dangerous man in the Southwest” and would kill anyone, man or woman, for a price … or just for revenge.

That was the case in April of 1957, nearly a year after Lindsey’s disappearance, when Norris followed through on a long-simmering plan to seek revenge against the man who, he believed, landed his beloved big brother, Pete, in prison 20 years before.  Pete “Big Boy” Norris was 10 years older than Gene Paul and, as with many sibling relationships, the younger brother adored his older sibling and followed him everywhere.

In 1937, Pete labored as an oil field worker and rum runner in Stafford, Texas (which has now been pretty much gobbled up by Houston) when he killed fellow bootlegger, R.E. Rutledge after a dispute.  Gambler Johnnie Brannan was a witness to the events and testified against Pete in court.  The elder Norris was convicted and sentenced to a long stretch in nearby Ferguson Prison.  In 1942, Gene Paul concocted a successful plan to break out his big brother, and the siblings went on the lam for several months, robbing stores and banks to get enough money to live on.  The escape and robberies landed Pete at the top of the Oklahoma and Texas authorities’ list as Public Enemy #1.

In late February 1943, a tip led a 75-man posse to a remote farm in Texas where the two brothers were holed up.  The brothers surrendered without incident, and Gene Paul got eight years for planning the breakout and the robberies (he was paroled after two years).  Pete was sent back to prison, escaped again in 1944, then was caught a few days later in Detroit. The big league trouble maker then received a 700-year sentence, which all but ensured he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Gene Paul long fostered a great hatred for the man he blamed for Pete’s initial incarceration, Houston gangster Johnnie Brannan, and resolved to take revenge.  According to an account by Texas Ranger, Johnny Klevenhagen:

Houston police received a call from a known associate of Brannan.  He said that he had been trying for hours to telephone Brannan, all to no avail.  A patrol car was dispatched to Brannan’s home.  The officers knocked on the door, but received no reply.  They tried the front door and found it unlocked.  When they entered the house, they were greeted with a gruesome sight.  Both Brannan and his semi-invalid wife were dead, and the heads of both victims had been beaten to a bloody pulp.  In fact, Brannan had been hit so hard that one of his eyeballs had been literally knocked from his head.  The crime-scene investigation revealed that, after the killers had massacred their victims, they had gone into the bathroom and washed blood off themselves.  Then they had calmly gone into the kitchen and drunk coffee.

At first, no one suspected the gangster of the brutal double homicide, but when police picked up Norris’s bodyguard, William Carl Humphrey on a public intoxication charge a few days later in Temple, Texas, they noticed he was wearing a gold ring in the shape of a horseshoe, which was just like one Brannan wore and that was missing from the murder scene.  However, Humphrey had bailed out and skipped town before homicide detectives to get to him and question him about the slayings.

The Brutal End of Norris and Humphrey

The two criminals laid low for a few weeks until they popped back up near their old stomping ground: Fort Worth.  Fort Worth Police Chief Hightower got word that the criminals were planning to hold up the Fort Worth National Bank branch on the Carswell Air Force Base in this, the most daring crime of their already-impressive careers.  On April 29th, Norris and Humphrey, who were both just 35 years old, were driving along Meandering Road near the base in Norris’s souped up and shiny new ’57 Chevy heading to heist the $225,000 payroll at the branch (which would be worth $1.8 million in 2017).  They were spotted by police, who were told to keep an eye out for the duo.  A thrilling pursuit began.

I’ve combined two accounts from the Texas Rangers website about what happened next:

Heading toward the area, the Rangers soon spotted the pair, and the race was on. Humphrey was driving the outlaw car. Jay in pursuit, Ranger Jim Ray was in a second car right behind his captain. Hitting speeds of 115 mph, the chase continued. For the next several minutes, a running gunfight covered an area over much of the western area of Fort Worth. 

Finally, Humphrey made a fatal mistake: he turned onto a country road that was covered with caliche (crushed rock). It had rained shortly before, and the road surface was very slick. When Humphrey turned onto the road, he fishtailed several times before straightening out.  (Texas Ranger) Jay did two complete spins himself, but ended up heading in the right direction.

The race continued along the road that ran beside the swollen Walnut Creek. All the while, Norris and Klevenhagen were hanging out their respective car windows, firing away at one another. Just outside the tiny community of Springtown, the chase came to an end.  

Charging into a curve too fast, the bandits’ ’57 Chevy slid off the road and slammed into a tree. 

(Police inspecting Norris’s car after the incident.)

Jay tried to stop behind the killers’ car, but instead slid right up beside it. He said later that this really worried him. He was concerned that Norris would be able to level his deadly shotgun—Norris’ weapon of choice—at the Rangers. He need not have worried. Though shaken, Norris and Humphrey stumbled out of their car and started running up a nearby hill.  Jay rolled out of his Dodge and gave chase. In a desperate effort to escape, Humphrey and Norris jumped into the flooded Walnut Creek and made for the far shore. Humphrey headed north and made it to a small island in the creek. He died on that island in a hail of Jay’s gunfire. Meanwhile, Norris was trying to go straight across the creek. He made it to the water’s edge.  Norris surely knew what was about to happen, but he also knew that all he had waiting for him if he surrendered was the electric chair.  He started shooting and, in turn, he took a full twenty eight rounds.  Banks started at Norris’s ankles and worked his way to the top of his head.  (Norris was shot 16 times while Humphrey was shot 23 times.)

As Jay said, the most heartless of killers, Gene Paul Norris, “died screaming like a baby.”


You can read more of Norris’s murderous exploits here and here,

Gene Paul Norris was buried in the family plot near his family’s farm in Healdton:


Where Was Lindsey Murdered?

With the death of Norris, the investigation into Lindsey’s murder was shut down and the case was closed, but there has been speculation ever since Lindsey’s bones were discovered in the shallow grave about how and when he actually ended up there.  Here’s one account from a blogger at that fits in with several other accounts I’ve read.  The author accidentally got Gene Paul Norris’s name mixed up with another of Lindsey’s cohorts, George Fuqua, but the store is intriguing and has a ring of truth to it since Norris’s family had a farm in the Healdton area.  I’ve changed the references from Fuqua to Norris to avoid confusion (the name is not in italics and isn’t part of the actual quote):

Chambless’ remains were officially found near the South Canadian river, south of Wheatland and a bit west of Will Rogers Field (OKC), but he had actually been killed and first buried on a farm near Healdton. The killer was one Gene Paul Norris, who himself was later executed by Dallas police while en route to hold up the Carswell AFB finance office. Unknown to Norris, the FBI had an informant who witnessed the murder but could never testify to it because she was Norris‘s wife. She said that Chambless was forced to dig his own grave, then shot.  After Norris’s death, the FBI dug up the remains and moved them to the spot where they were officially found, then waited for a rainstorm to cover their tracks and settle the ground over the new grave before “receiving a tip” and uncovering the bones.  … Norris’s parents were decent folk who in no way shared any responsibility for their son’s criminal activities, but the killing took place on their farm. That’s why the FBI covered up the original burial and the transfer. 

Lindsey and Gene Paul Norris were gone, but the debate whether or not to end prohibition in Oklahoma was heating up once again.

Oklahomans Will Vote Dry as Long as They Can Stagger to the Polls

… or so said Will Rogers, and he was right for a long time.  Although illegal, it was easy for Oklahomans to obtain liquor (beer was legal), and because it was bootlegged, they didn’t have to pay taxes on it.  Another benefit was that bootleggers would discreetly deliver their product to customers.  And, with just less than 10% of illegal alcohol being confiscated, bootleggers made a ton of money with relatively little risk of being caught by authorities and supplies were ample.

All of that changed with the election of Tulsa County attorney, 33-year-old J. Howard Edmondson, who took office in 1959.

To force the repeal of prohibition, Edmondson began strictly enforcing the ban on alcohol and, as a result according to, “Oklahoma came closer to being truly ‘dry’ than ever before.”  A petition was circulated calling for the issue to come before voters yet again…

While, as usual, religious groups, concerned mothers’ groups, and others fought hard to retain prohibition:

(Leaders of the Mothers Against Prohibition group.)

Election day came.

While some people gathered at the State Capitol to eagerly watch the vote…

… others against repeal gathered in churches to pray for continued prohibition:

The votes were gathered and tallied, and by the evening it was announced that the “wets” had won the day.  Tulsa World reporter, Gene Curtis, wrote that “more than 700,000 voters cast ballots, and the state’s growing urban centers flexed their political muscle. Tulsa County provided the largest margin for the wets’ victory — 86,600 to 23,700. Oklahoma County voters approved repeal by a vote of 81,000 to 48,000.”

At long last, prohibition was over … but not everyone was happy about it.

Curtis reported that “a Dallas bootlegger told a Tulsa World reporter: ‘Just like that. It happens just like that. After building up my business for years, those damn Oklahomans go to the polls and vote to make me a bankrupt.  I tell you, it just ain’t right,’ he added.”

Meanwhile, liquor store owners happily began stocking all kinds of spirits:


After Lindsey was officially declared dead, his young widow, Mary Lou stayed in Cisco, Texas, near her mother and Lindsey’s previous wife, Stella.  She remarried around 1958 and had a daughter with her second husband.  She spent the rest of her life in the area and died in 1993.  Stella, who had to be the unluckiest women in the world when it came to finding love in all of the wrong places, died in 1964.

The beautiful Western Hills Motel in Fort Worth where the Cubans were robbed burned to the ground in 1969, and a collection of ugly, nondescript buildings occupy the lot today.

As for the Cubans, their efforts to reinstall deposed President Carlos Prio Socarras ultimately failed, and the former leader died in exile in Miami in 1977. The man who overthrew him, Fulgencio Batista was himself overthrown when Communist-backed Fidel Castro seized the country on New Year’s Day, 1959.  Sadly, Socarras later and very aptly stated, “They say that I was a terrible president of Cuba. That may be true. But I was the best president Cuba ever had.”

Another of Lindsey’s many underworld associates, longtime Dixie Mafia hood George Fuqua, met a bloody end.  Fuqua was one of the guys who helped Lindsey run other bootleggers off the road and stole their stock, remember?  Anyway, in 1968, the 45-year-old gangster and his 28-year-old girlfriend, Doris Sorrells Grooms, were found murdered, their bodies tossed into a ditch along what is now Spring Creek Parkway in Plano, Texas.  Both had been shot in the head several times.  Interestingly, there’s a connection between George Fuqua, the man who supposedly killed him (but was never arrested for the murder), George McGann, and the Kennedy assassination.  Read all about it here.

Here’s Fuqua’s death certificate:


And here’s a photo of his beautiful but unfortunate companion, Doris, in earlier days:


While many of the gangsters in this story ended life in a very dramatic and bad way, a few like rum running kingpin Grady King, survived into old age.  King, who, along with Norris, may have been the one to fix the hit on Lindsey, diversified his interests while still a bootlegger.  He invested in oil companies in the region and was able to easily make the transition to a legitimate businessman after the end of prohibition.  He died in Edmond in 2009.

Another of the bad guys in this story lived a long life.  Although he received a 700-year sentence that was meant to keep him behind bars for life, Gene Paul Norris’s elder brother, Pete, was released on parole in 1960. During his long years in prison, Pete took advantage of every educational opportunity he could and studied agriculture, law, psychology, and painting.  He told one reporter that education changed him and said, “If I hadn’t changed, I’d be a stark, raving maniac.”  He married, tended to the family farm in Healdton (where Lindsey was supposedly murdered and initially buried), died there in 1974, and is buried in a nearby cemetery.

And that’s it for the meandering saga of Lindsey Chambless.  Believe it or not, during my research journey into his crazy life, I met a lot of characters that I didn’t introduce here.  So, you may be seeing more stories of Oklahoma during prohibition in the future — yay!

Finally, I found a few resources that I thought I’d share with you in case you want to do further reading:

The bars and clubs along Jacksboro Highway in Fort Worth were big-time havens for members of the Dixie Mafia, and you can read more about the illustrious history of the highway here.

Go here to read the full Tulsa World article about the end of prohibition that I quoted above.

Read more about the history of prohibition here and here.

The book, Oklahoma Tough: My Father, King of the Tulsa Bootleggers is a fascinating account of the life of one Tulsa bootlegger.

Here’s a brief history of Cuba in the 1950s.