Basketball season will be upon us in a few months.
The Thunder faithful will gather again on Reno Avenue north of the Chesapeake Arena in anticipation of another great game.
But go a few blocks north to where Broadway and Sheridan form a T intersection anchored by the Cox Convention Center, the Sheraton Century Hotel and the Renaissance Hotel, and imagine, if you will, Broadway extending south and each corner populated with its own diverse group of citizens.
This article from The Oklahoman, May 25, 1919, tells the story of Gospel Corner.
” ‘Gospel Corner,’ famous in the history of Oklahoma City until a decade ago, is being rehabilitated, after being partially suppressed by police edict. During its palmy days, ‘Gospel Corner’ vied with Trafalgar Square in London as a place where the freedom of speech regardless of how seditionary or unorthodox, was permitted. During the summer months it was not uncommon for four religious meetings to be in progress simultaneously — one on each corner, and it was because the intersection of Grand Avenue (now Sheridan Avenue) and Broadway was favored during the cool of the evenings as a place for street sermons that the intersection became known as ‘Gospel Corner.’
“Any man or woman who thought he or she had a message to deliver to the world was welcome to mount a soap box and begin expounding after 6 o’clock p.m. The city was filled with transients at that time, and any speaker was sure to have an audience regardless of the subject or length of the address.
“Religious ideas were not the only ones disseminated at ‘Gospel Corner’ during the heyday of its glory. Soap box orators and curbstone statesmen flourished here in those days, and a citizen with a few minutes to spend could learn how to save the country. The information was free.
“Gospel Corner’s downfall really dates from the time that ‘God,’ ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ (a group of nudists or naturists) undertook one day to put their preaching into practice on West Grand avenue. In broad daylight the three, attired even as Adam might have been, emerged from a doorway near Robinson avenue and began a march east on Grand avenue.”
After being covered up by well-meaning citizens, the trio were taken to jail and then banished from the city. The police pronounced an edict prohibiting gatherings on the corners.
The 1919 article ended by saying:
” ‘Gospel Corner’ is being revived but it is now pitched upon a higher plane. On several evenings last week two organizations were holding forth simultaneously at ‘Gospel Corner’ and the gatherings assumed the proportions of the old time crowds.”
The crowds have moved two blocks south now to Reno, and the shouts are for the home team, but if you’re at Broadway and Sheridan on game night, use your imagination and hear the sounds of those long-ago crowds.
But you’ll look sweet But you’ll look sweet
Upon the seat of a bicycle built for two.
Times change and our modes of transportation change with them.
The tandem bicycle or bicycle built for two was invented in late 19th century England and there is a report in The Oklahoman that possibly three bicycles, and one of those a tandem, participated in the Land Run of 1889.
Here is an article about a theft published November 28, 1938, that brought back memories of an earlier time to the responding police officers.
“Shades of the gay nineties descended upon the police department Sunday afternoon.”
“Got a stolen bicycle at the White House cafe, 1945 Northeast Twenty-third street,” Joe Jerkins, station captain, told (Clyde) Anderson (station officer).
Anderson took off and when he returned it was with “a bicycle built for two–a tandem. And the back seat was almost a large as a rocking chair seat, so the girl friend could ride sideways.”
“Twirling his moustache and yearning for the return of the mustache cup, Jack Barnett, scout car lieutenant, took one look at the machine and remembered how he had clipped a neat corner on one of the things in the dear, dead days. He could go whizzing by the Overholser Opera house on North Robinson avenue, do a fancy left turn, and coast to South Broadway.”
Try that today with downtown’s streets under various stages of repairs and you could probably wind up in a hole or run into a backhoe.
Jack Barnett continued telling about the first car he ever saw was one he ran into on his bicycle. He recalled, “It was a doctor’s car, and when he lifted me into that strange animal I quit hurting right away.”
“Many a boy and man hopped off their tandems to enlist for the Spanish-American war,” Barnett remembered. “And the fellow who had a shiny tandem could really give the girls the eye!”
Back to the crime, it was determined a teen-age boy had left the bicycle behind the cafe and escaped on foot. There was no indication he was ever apprehended, but it sure brought a nostalgic air to the police station back in 1938.