If motorists whizzing along NW 39 Street look on the south side of the 2600 block, they will see the YWCA Gaylord Service Complex.
But imagine traveling in a time machine back to 1924. That same stretch of highway would be only a two-lane road, and where the YWCA sits now, there might have been only a grand opening sign with a family park for a backdrop.
The formal opening of Log Cabin Park was announced in an advertisement in The Oklahoman on April 19, 1924, touting the park as “a paradise for tourists.”
Another ad encouraged readers to come out to “this close-in Tourist Park” and listed the availability of gasoline, oil and tires from the station and touted the “Log Cabin Inn — We’re going to make it worth your while.”
An image that accompanied the ad shows a two-story log building with an awning that extends over gas pumps.
The park featured a free baseball game on Sunday, political speaking Tuesday evening by Democratic candidates and offered free ice cold lemonade all day every Sunday.
By September, the ads were featuring a cafe and a promotion that read, “You can eat our wholesome meals or cook yourself. The kids can romp and play and yell their heads off.”
For more than a decade, Log Cabin Park was a destination for Sunday drives and a popular spot for company picnics. In the 1930s, boxers trained in the Log Cabin ring. If you didn’t have a car, the street cars would take you there.
Times changed, and the Log Cabin Inn gave way to the Log Cabin Theater in 1941. It was Oklahoma City’s movie theater of choice for artsy movies, although it showed regular fare, too.
In April 1950, the theater name was changed to the Frontier, and it continued showing movies until it burned in 1954.
The land changed hands, and the Rio Motel was built on the site in 1957.
In 1988, the YWCA bought the old motel and remodeled it for their battered women’s shelter.
The site at 2640 NW 39 has had many names: Log Cabin Tire Co., Log Cabin Inn, Log Cabin Park, Log Cabin Club, Log Cabin Theater, Frontier Theater, Rio Hotel and now the YWCA Gaylord Service Complex.
The next time you pass this location, imagine a slower, simpler time with citizens enjoying an outing at the park or young people seeing a movie.
From the unpaved streets of the Land Run to the Interstate highways of today, city drivers are not surprised by the potholes, cracks and rough surfaces they encounter.
A story from The Oklahoman on Nov. 27, 1925, addressed that issue but also gave the history of several street names.
Here are some excerpts from the article:
“Pavements rutted by heavy truck traffic, inclement weather are not endeared to the hearts of Oklahoma Cityans in their infancy of heavy taxes nor when a puncture is picked up. They are the roundelay of abuse from city hall to the city limits — and yet have a heart — they have a heart.
“Take Bath avenue, back of that name is a personality — not a Saturday night ablution. The street was named for V.L. Bath, realty man.”
Bath was one of Oklahoma City’s earliest settlers.
“Dewey avenue has two fathers and is proud of both. One is Admiral Dewey, Spanish-American war hero and the other, Dr. Fred S. Dewey, pioneer physician of the capital city and formerly an army contract surgeon during the 90s. It is the only street in the city that old-timers attribute to different men.”
Dr. Frederick Stanley Dewey was Oklahoma City’s first coroner. His father was Adm. George Dewey’s cousin.
“Peter Billen who platted the Aurora addition was a prominent farmer here, breathed life into the painted curb signs, Billen avenue.”
Billen was born in Prussia in 1845 and grew up in Aurora, Ill. He moved to Oklahoma City in the 1890s and bought a farm on NW 16th.
The addition he platted was named for his boyhood home.
“Ellison avenue looks to Luke Ellison, prominent Mason in Oklahoma City in the early days as a godfather.”
Ellison bought the farm that was to become the Miller Boulevard neighborhood for $200.
“Reno is for Major Reno, an early-day army officer.”
Maj. Gen. Jesse L. Reno was killed while commanding his troops at the Battle of South Mountain during the Civil War.
He lent his name to towns in Nevada and Pennsylvania, a county in Kansas, as well as our own El Reno and Fort Reno.
“The forests live with Ash avenue, Elm street, Cypress and Walnut and the Indian tribes with Pottawatomie, Choctaw or the state’s with Pennsylvania and California while Kate avenue they’ll tell you at the city hall received it’s baptism at the hands of a congenial Irish woman, called Kate, who served home-made doughnuts and coffee to a crew that surveyed the street.”
Political candidates often make promises to their constituents in hopes of being elected, but changing the date of Groundhog Day to Valentine’s Day seems a bit of a stretch.
In 1918, Dr. M.W. Romine was elected to the state House of Representatives by the citizens of Le Flore County.
According to a story in the Jan. 20, 1919, edition of The Oklahoman, Romine was going to try to make good on one of his promises.
“In the good old days gone by, Oklahoma legislatures have been called up to wrestle with many weighty problems of statecraft — stategraft, also.
Regulatory measures without number, ranging from suggestions to require women to wear their skirts long enough to drag the ground, on up the line to declaring the piercing of ears to be barbarous and unnecessary voluntary punishment and placing it under ban, have in times received great and serious consideration.
John Barleycorn has lost many a memorable battle within the walls of Oklahoma legislative assemblies.
Only recently both houses decided within the brief space of a few hours that a league of nations … is a good thing for this old world and ought to be established.
But all of these momentous problems, which received the best thought and effort of some of the most distinguished men who have ever signed a legislative payroll in Oklahoma, are soon to be relegated from memory, which is the only place they remain, and a newer, more weighty and far reaching problem — it reaches all the way to Arkansas — is to receive the closest attention of the best legislative talent.
It is the question of establishing once and for all that date which is to be observed as ground hog day in Oklahoma.”
Apparently, before 1919, Arkansas and Mississippi would celebrate Groundhog Day on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day.
Oklahoma farmers along the eastern state line would tend to follow their Arkansas neighbors.
“In farming communities ground hog day, the elements permitting, is considered the day upon which potatoes should be planted. At that particular time Old Mother Nature is ready to receive her potato crop.
So when people of east-side Oklahoma plant on February 2 and their crop fails, and their Arkansas neighbors do their planting on February 14, and their crop is a success, bad feeling develops.
‘And now I have decided,’ said Representative Romine of Spiro, Le Flore County, ‘to ask the legislature to settle the argument and fix ground hog day by statute. I have no particular date to suggest. I am willing to leave that matter to the judgment of the legislator, but the question must be settled on the Arkansas line.’
Romine said that when he made his campaign for member of the house he promised to work to this end, ‘and I am going to remain true to my constituency and do the best I can,’ he said.”
It seems the Hon. Mr. Romine intended to keep his promise.
I was unable to verify an official change, but since Groundhog Day is celebrated nationally on Feb. 2, it’s possible his bill never made it out of committee.
When Dr. H.H. (Harry Howard) Cloudman arrived in Oklahoma City in 1908, he was already a celebrated athlete and medical doctor. And his work in physical education still affects our state today.
Late last year, Cloudman was posthumously inducted into the Bowdoin College Athletic Hall of Honor in Brunswick, Maine.
He represented the class of 1901 and was recognized as an international track star.
In 1939, he was named one of the Maine college’s “greatest athletes of all time.”
The Bowdoin College Athletic Department Web page states: “In the Maine State Meet in 1899 he set a new record of 9.8 seconds in the 100-yard dash, tying the world record. The time was since matched by Howard Mostrum ’27 and Gordon Milliken ’53, but it has never been bettered. It is the longest-standing athletic record at Bowdoin, and it will not be surpassed, since track and field events transitioned to the metric system in the 1970s.”
In 1909, Cloudman was hired by the Oklahoma City Schools as physical director.
His obituary published in The Oklahoman on Dec. 6, 1950, gave the attributes of the man:
“Known by many generations of city school children, Dr. Cloudman inaugurated physical education in city schools and was the first school doctor.
“He was an athlete, a soldier and a pioneer in the field of preventive medicine here.”
“He was elected physical director of schools and high school coach here. He was the first secretary of the Oklahoma State Highschool Athletic Association (now called the Oklahoma Secondary School Athletic Association or OSSAA) and first city Boy Scout commissioner.”
“In 1911, he began physical examinations in all schools. He arranged clinics for children who could not afford medical care and he set up a system of consultation with parents.”
“The physician was with the 45th division for 18½ years, and was a lieutenant colonel when he left the division in 1941 after a year’s active service as a sanitary engineer. This was one of three military leaves he took from the school during his period of service.”
He retired in 1946 after 36 years of service to the Oklahoma City Schools.
Cloudman and his wife returned to Maine where he died in 1950.
So if “dressing out” for gym was not your favorite activity in school, you now know who to thank.