Westward Ho!

In keeping with the tradition of pointing out towns with unusual names, I offer Slapout, Oklahoma (US Route 3, Beaver County). Back in 1972, when I lived there, I took numerous trips into the hills around the state. And one day I came across the tiny burg about which this is written. Have camera, will travel.

For more details, I have sought the assistance of Wikipedia, which reports that the land upon which part of the town sits, was homesteaded by Joseph L. Johnston. It’s on the northwest corner of the land Johnson had acquired with a government claim in 1904, three years before Oklahoma became a state.

With the construction of Highway Three across Oklahoma during the Great Depression Tom Lemmons, who had bought the Johnson homestead, moved a chicken coop to where the highway passed his land. In the chicken coop, he started a store. He told the Tulsa Tribune he had nothing else to do during the depression, so he thought he’d start a town. He named his town Nye, after the Progressive U.S. Senator Gerald Nye (R.  N.D.)

The name Slapout, according to local legend, came about because customers at the store in Nye were often told by Lemmon’s sister that the store was “slapout” of whatever they wanted. Tom Lemmons insisted his sister never used the phrase. However, the name stuck. When Tom continued to insist his side of the highway was called Nye, patrons responded that the south side of the highway could be “Slapout”, and that the north side with Lemmon’s store could be “Nye Out.”

Tom Lemmons finally gave in when a tornado came through town and only took out his Nye sign. After that, both sides were known as Slapout. Back at the census in 2000, the town had 10 inhabitants and included the Hagan Grocery on the south side of the highway.

Today, Slapout’s claim to fame is that the gas station is a regular stop for Tulsa and Oklahoma City skiers traveling to Colorado. If you use Google Maps you can get a relatively recent “street view” of the place. I say relatively recent because the gas station shows a price of $3.49 a gallon. I guess “relatively recent” would work, because my pic was from 1972. At that time gas cost under $.50 a gallon for premium, which my (now antique) used lots of! (Yes, it used to be my “daily driver.”) There are several other buildings in town, all but one “tumbledown,” including the one marked Fred’s Grocery (wonder where Hagan went?)

The roads I traveled often also contained sights interesting in their own right. Such as one of the accessible locations of the Santa Fe trail (below.)

To think that pioneers traveled these primitive roads in their Conestoga wagons and riding their horses is almost inconceivable in these days of airliners and automobiles.

The ruts of the Santa Fe Trail, above.



A quick run…last fall!

I had to make a run to the Western Shore of Chesapeake Bay to pick up some contact lenses,  and go to the mall to pick up some shoes that were in for work the nearby rural cobbler couldn’t handle.

That morning, I put on an outfit similar to this,  with pantyhose instead of bare legs, and a pair of my flats instead of Mary Jane heels, and off I went.

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After parking the car, I did some walking around inside the mall, not wearing a coat or sweater. (Yes, we had our 3 wonderful days of summer…now it seems we’re headed into fall, with cooler  temperatures.  LOL!)     I noticed that the two annoying (or affirming) kiosk peddlers who had always accosted me about their cosmetics on every walk around the mall…were gone.  Yay!  Though to some extent I enjoyed their attention, nonetheless it was annoying, so I’m fine with their disappearance.

However, if it was attention I was seeking,  I received quite a bit of that…despite the peddlers’ notable absence.   Standing outside a cell phone company store’s door, waiting for them to open, was a small gaggle of people.  One was a 50something woman.  I was wearing my sunglasses, as sunlight was pouring through the skylights.

As I walked (and people-watched from behind my Foster Grants), I couldn’t help but notice the woman’s eyes immediately lock on to me like radar as I approached.  I observed her gaze follow me until I passed her, and as I approached a store with a properly aimed window glass, I stopped to window shop and observe her continue to watch me.  Probably two minutes later, with her never missing a beat, I said to myself…”To heck with it…I’m moving on.”  And I did.  No doubt she watched me disappear down the hall until the buzzer rang and the store opened.

And at the cobbler’s shop, I was properly addressed as “Ma’am.”

Isn’t life fun?


The Rest of the “Trip Story” or, “What is it with Toilet Paper?”

You already know from the prior post that for some time we’d been planning a trip to visit our son, DIL, granddaughter and the in-laws in TN.  So in that way, there’s a bit of duplication (but more detail) here.

We were planning to leave this past Sunday.   Late the night before, we got a call from our daughter-in-law in, who advised us they just found out that Saturday at work, her dad came into contact with individuals who were symptomatic and possibly at the very least COVID-19 positive.   The whole family – including herself, our son and granddaughter, her parents, and her brother who is visiting – faces the spectre of possible quarantine, and if we go, we would be included.   

Since we’d have been ‘camping’ alone in their partially finished “new” (to them) house being rehabbed, (fortunately finished and working kitchen, bathroom, HVAC, full electricity,  but minimal furniture and no TV or internet), with little food or supplies, we decided with much sadness and regret, it’s “game over – trip postponed for now.”  We are both over that age which would expose ourselves to added risk. 😦   So we’re at staying home, and FaceTiming them instead.  At least, till things improve.  Someday soon?   Hopefully. (But we’re far from confident about that.)

However, before we cancelled out trip, we got a call from them, that all stores in their town are out of soft goods such as tissues and toilet paper. Tissues? Those I can sort of understand, since they’re not terribly useful unless one is sick. But TOILET PAPER? So we said we’d bring some.

Same thing occurs here whenever snow is forecast – even as occasional flurries with no accumulation. At that point, the hot items are “milk, bread and toilet paper.” As perishables, milk and bread are sort of understandable. Even we don’t keep a huge supply of milk on hand. (Bread – well, yes, in the freezer.) But, once again, TOILET PAPER? Is it universal that nobody buys toilet paper till using the last 4 sheets of their last roll? And that the mere forecast of three flakes of snow is enough to cause folks to clean out every roll in every store within a 50 mile radius?

While we don’t need any soft goods (had purchased TP and tissues ahead, to take some to the kids anyway, which is now added to our inventory), I checked to see that the stock of milk and bread were still fine. I did manage to buy some other perishables to restock our supply at the house. (Apparently ice cream and prepared dinners are the other hot items, as their supply on both was down. But don’t need them, either.)

Here’s what I found in the soft goods aisle of our favorite store in a nearby town;

Basically, if you need anything except perhaps paper towels, you’re out of luck. Good thing our supply is adequate for a while!


PS: They subsequently did get needed supplies of soft goods by accidentally arriving at the store as they were restocking.

PPS: Also saw on line that there have been instances of thieves smashing car windows to steal a couple rolls of toilet paper left in plain view. You would think that amateur criminals in training would think “at the minimum, the fine imposed by the judge would far exceed the value of the TP” and more importantly, “if the judge imposes jail time….was it really worth it?” Note to self: hide the TP and avoid the problem.

We’re now staying home…

YAY! Another current event! Though subjects to write about may get scarce as more and more things close down…

We’re now both staying home, except for visits to the grocery store, pharmacy, post office, and so on. We don’t want to unduly expose ourselves to the nasty virus that’s going around the world. So far, we’ve escaped it, though had we visited the kids in TN recently, we would have both caught what they have now…fortunately whatever it is has been relatively mild.

But there’s an even better reason that we stayed home, though we weren’t aware of it at the time. We would still have been gone. The furnace died. That can be a problem in cold weather. The serviceman showed up promptly but had to order the part, which was part of the furnace’s “brain.” (It’s one of those high efficiency types.) So, some $650 later, it’s supposed to arrive and be installed today.

When I made a quick solo trip to the big box store nearby to look for a part for my phone, I wore my ballet flats from home, but changed to sandals for the store visit. Here’s a picture of my outfit;

Other than winter-white legs, I fit right in with the ladies who were wearing their sandals and capris, (My fingernails look like they’re done with french tips, but they’re not, it’s just the standard pink gel. Didn’t notice until now how well the black toenail polish matches my sandals….

I hope that as time goes on, sandals can be worn more often with my painted nails, both when out alone, and hopefully at some point, with my wife.

Time will tell,


Old Ferroequinology…

I came across a few ferroequinology pictures which may be of interest to some readers!.

First is steam locomotive 2101, formerly Reading Railroad, which was restored and used on the American Freedom Train & Chessie Steam Specials back in the 1970’s.  Here is a picture I took, at Grant Street Station sometime during the run of the Steam Specials – from 1977 through 1978.  My pix are unfortunately undated, but are from that 1977-78 era.

Per Wikipedia, Reading 2101 is a 4-8-4 “Northern” type steam built for use by the Reading Company in 194.  Constructed from an earlier 2-8-0 locomotive built in 1923, the 2101 handled heavy coal train traffic for the Reading until being retired in 1959. Withheld from scrapping, the 2101 served as emergency backup power for the three other T1 locomotives serving the Reading’s “Iron Horse Rambles” excursions until being sold for scrap in 1964. In 1975, the locomotive was restored to operation from scrapyard condition in an emergency 30-day overhaul after being selected to pull the first eastern portion of the American Freedom Train. After being involved (and seriously damaged) in a roundhouse fire in 1979, the 2101 was traded to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, in exchange for the C&O 614. Today the locomotive remains, inoperable and on static display.

Here is 2101, on display at Pittsburgh’s Grant Street Station, along with the cars from the Chessie Steam Special.

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Following is a picture of the tail car of the Chessie Steam Special, at the bumping post in Grant Street Station.

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And for anyone wondering what the PaTrain looked like “back in the day”, following is a picture of one I captured from the vestibule of a steam excursion leaving Pittsburgh.  The regular engines (F-7’s which reportedly belonged to the abandoned Wellsville, Addison and Galeton Railroad on the border of NY and PA) must have been out of service – a Chessie engine was on the point.  Unfortunately I do not recall the date, but it certainly was prior to 1989…because the Port Authority transferred the equipment to the Connecticut Department of Transportation after cesssation of PaTrain service in 1989.   I’ve lost track of their current whereabouts, though.

Those with more interest in what PaTrain operations looked like, all you need to do is go here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUfEXTkkV8A where you can find quite a bit of video of them in operation. And pictures of the inside of the station, which appears exactly as I remember it.  Fascinating.

While the following has nothing to do with PaTrains, a great caption would be “Houston, we have a problem.”   Or maybe:  “Ooopsy-daisy…”

I came across this scene in a small town in Western PA in the time frame of late 1986 or early 1987….the day after a massive snowfall and a concurrent major cold wave.  I can narrow the time down relatively closely, as #4213 (which began life as C&O’s GP-30 #3018) was repainted into CSX livery and renumbered in 1986.  It appears freshly painted in the above, underneath winter’s grime.

Ice between the rails from a drainage issue apparently lifted the wheels enough that the cab-end bogey escaped the confines of the rails, and led the engine off in a slightly different direction. The cars were cut off and picked up  by a relief engine (as they were blocking a public road crossing).  The crew was also apparently picked up, and they left the engine idling in order to prevent a freeze-up, a likely pollution incident.   When I went by a few days later, they had come back, re-railed and removed the loco.  The only evidence remaining of the entire incident was “marks in the snow…”  

You never know what you’ll find in my picture collection!


Europe anyone? Part 5 – Final.

Europe anyone? I present the following as my fifth Europe – and final – entry. Heads up: this does not present gender-related material…but should appeal to any folks who enjoy traveling.

Of course, at the time of these tours, “Mandy” didn’t exist. And, it was possible to travel around European countries in a dedicated group tour bus emblazoned with USA flags, along with 40 other American students. Very sadly, that would not be a wise or safe thing to attempt, in today’s terror-filled world. Gone are the days…

As info, these pictures were taken with Kodak Ektachrome color slide film in a 1970’s-era Mamiya-Sekor 1000DTL SLR, and in the early 2000’s, transferred to electronic images from those previously-developed Ektachrome slides. After all these years, memory fails me as to the exact route(s) the bus followed (there are several possibilities), and the exact order of the countries visited. So I fell back to the order of my converted-to-digital pictures, hoping to recreate it after the fact. Unfortunately, the shop which did the conversion did NOT follow the order one by one when removing from the slide tray, and the images are in random order. Yes, a map of the area shows several possible routes to go from place to place. ;-( Thus, each location will be treated separately in this and the following section(s).


Leaving Lucerne, we eventually found our way to Innsbruck, Austria via the Arlberg Pass.  The weather was very foggy, and pictures generally weren’t possible.  Enroute, I snapped a pic of a freight train.

Love those “so European-style” boxcars!

We drove through St Anton, where I got the following pic.  A typical Tyrolean style hotel, this was very picturesque.

Originally a stop for travelers over the Arlberg pass, St. Christoph is now a small settlement of exclusive hotels at about 5,905 ft. elevation, clustered around a couple of ski lifts linking into the center of the Arlberg ski area.   

In contrast to the hectic pace of life in St Anton, St Christoph provides an exclusive high Alpine experience for its well-heeled guests.  Principal attraction is direct access to the slopes.  And the high level of standard accommodations is another draw.  Drivers are cautioned to have full winter equipment, as bad weather often forces driving restrictions for the pass.

Just out of curiosity, I checked on line for one night’s cost in ski season at one of the hotels.  Get out your credit card and make sure there’s plenty of credit limit:  One night at some of the hotels can set you back from $457 to $954 a night…and there are likely additional fees and charges.  In return though, the ratings were from 8.2 to 9.7 on a scale of 1 – 10 (10 being very good.)

I won’t be going there in this life…since if my ship comes in, I’ll probably be at the airport and miss it.   LOL!

In Innsbruck a highlight was the Altstadt part of town, the Goldenes Dachl is a a building with a “Golden Roof.”  (Above) And it is considered by many to be the city’s most famous landmark.  It was constructed in the 1500’s for Emperor Maximilian the first.  The striking roof canopy is made up of 2,738 gilded copper tiles, while the lower balconies bear coats of arms related to the Emperor’s historical Territories.


From Innsbruck it was a long ride back toward Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. During the many hours of bus riding, the guide pointed out some sights. One of them was above: Garmisch, the site of the 1936 Winter Olympic ski jumping competition. While we did not get to tour the site, it was amazing to see such a historic place!

Not sure where the above was taken, but don’t you just love the architecture and painted ornamentation? (Update: Helen just advised me that the above is located in Oberammergau. Thanks, Helen!)

Guess where this was taken? Yes, near Amsterdam…

And finally, for the trip home, a visit to the airport! The end to a wonderful trip…thanks for reading!


Love Those Nails!

The staff at Mom’s nursing home, and many residents, have known my gender “forever.”  It’s in their paperwork, etcetera.  And I am almost always addressed correctly for my actual gender (name or greeting), regardless of my presentation.  The only fly in that oatmeal seems to be the “new help”.   A while back, a new receptionist  addressed me as a female for several weeks.  I let it go, and carried on regardless… eventually someone got the problem solved, and we continue to chat a bit every day.  

Some more new employees have appeared over the last few months.  And last fall, while dressed in white capris, navy blue top and white slides, with my french nails and floral nail art, long hair and purse, one of them addressed me in passing as “Miss (enter my actual given name here.)  Once again, I greeted her appropriately and carried on regardless.  I don’t mind at all!

Love these nails!

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