“On summer afternoons, below the well-used Route 66 crossing [the Chain of Rocks Bridge], shrill whistles from the calliope of the S.S. Admiral could be heard up and down the river.
Michael and Suzanne Wallis at Ollie’s Station, Red Fork, Oklahoma, 2002.
We came from all points and converged in “The Big Easy.” It was the spring of 1968 and some time in New Orleans seemed like a sweet tonic for all of us.
In January 1926 — about three months after oil tycoon Frank Phillips officially unveiled his new Woolaroc lodge at his ranch in Oklahoma — his first major shipment of animals — a herd of buffalo — arrived at the ranch. Phillips already had cattle grazing in the pastures, and a dozen buffalo were growing fat in a meadow, but he wanted more.
When you’re here, you’re halfway there! Route 66 travelers should keep in mind that a worthwhile stop awaits them at Adrian — a highway on the western end of the Texas Panhandle. There life continues for a handful of highway businesses including the Mid-Point Cafe & Gift Shop, one of the oldest eateries on the Mother Road.
All of my many journeys down the linear village of Route 66 take me through a diversity of places ranging from big cities to small farm and ranch towns and, of course, the wide open spaces. Since I was a teenager one of my favorite stopping points along the way is the Big Texan Steak Ranch nestled deep in the heart of the Texas Panhandle on the eastern edge of the high plains city of Amarillo.
Michael and Suzanne at Last Stand Hill in Wyoming. They are looking southwest. The markers indicate where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and 41 members of his regiment were killed by victorious Sioux and Cheyenne warriors on June 25, 1876.
The first time I ever saw Suzanne was when I walked into that classroom at the University of Missouri — a raw and ready guy straight out of the Marines. I was struck by those Irish-Danish looks. Her smile and hair and eyes knocked my socks off.
Michael Wallis digs a new fort with pals Johnnie Hofer, standing with shovel, and the Spinks brothers, 1955.
Michael Wallis and fellow author Marian Clark at the Corner Cafe, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“The Spinners,” Santa Fe, New Mexico, Jan. 1, 1970.