Susan Spess Shay

Still playing make believe.

Along the Dusty Mainstreet

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More from Opal Bailey Crowell’s book “Cleveland, Oklahoma. In the Triangle Country.”

This sweet woman remembers first hand about the birthing pains of C-Town, and what she wasn’t there for, she reports from the things her family and friends experienced. I’m so enjoying her words!

Most people who live in C-Town know it for a friendly, loving place. We reach out and help those who need it and many of us never meet a stranger.

It’s a C-Town tradition!

On the second page, Mrs. Crowell tells us the run into the Cherokee Strip was made in 1893. If you’ve ever seen the movie, “Cimarron,” you’ve seen a “run.” The movie shows how dramatic it was, but from what I’ve read (while prego with #3, I took some classes at OSU, I went to the old part of the library and looked up actual accounts of The Run.)  they didn’t touch the true explosive excitement of the day.

In the next paragraph, she says,

With more grocery stores and other business houses coming in, a Main Street was planned. At first, tents were set up as a place of business. J. P. Martin’s Dry Goods Store was the first business set up in a tent.

 The store on the left side of this picture (the sign says “Gents Furnishings”) was Martin’s building. It still stands today.

After a (swinging) bridge was built across the river, Mr. Martin and other traveled to Tulsa and areas where lumber could be bought. Then wooden buildings were all up and down Mainstreet.

This was about 1890.

1890 was before the land run of 1893. How did that happen, since “Indian Territory” meant Indian land. Anyone know?

At that time apparently, C-Town could be a dangerous place. One woman said when she was in the lumber yard office, she “put her feet up to miss the bullets.”

BUT any time there was a holiday or a day off, C-Town would have a party.

Large community dinners were served on makeshift tables of barrels and boards, set up on dusty main street, on the side under a tree or wherever space could be found for a table.

Everyone brought a contribution. Fresh butter or meat was not always available, but no matter how much or how little each family brought, there was always a yellow soda cake.

Everyone was invited, no one left out. If you were a newcomer or alone, someone made sure you were invited and had plenty to eat. Everyone was neighborly, enjoyed being together and most of the time they were entertained by a Band, or sometimes by a Pow Wow.

I think that’s where C-Town’s legacy of hospitality started. C-Townites are still a welcoming, giving, nice bunch of people.

Mrs. Crowell goes on to say,

The hardy pioneers considered wheat bread a luxury. They preferred Corn Pone over Kaffercorn bread but would eat either. A spoonful of “long sweetener” (sorghum molasses) smoothed the tartness of the boiled wild plum. Most folks ate wild meat, yet they might have a dozen hens and a milch cow.

In 1897 a loaf of bread cost 5 cents, a pound of coffee cost from 19 to 29 cents. Of course there was salt pork, dry beans and flour, or you could go to the Cafe and get a big meal for 25 cent.

Goods didn’t cost much back then, but people didn’t get paid much either. Work at the feed mill paid $7 a week. Grocery clerks made $7.50 a week, and carpenters or other workers received 75 cents a day.


  1. Anybody know the difference between Corn Pone and cornbread? (Is it the shape or a difference in the recipe?)
  2. What’s yellow soda cake? Anyone have a recipe?
  3. What’s Kaffercorn bread?

For such a short book–10 or 11 pages–there’s so much to learn about C-Town. And so many questions to ask. 🙂

Author: Susan Shay

For as long as I can remember, I've loved two things--reading and people--and that led me to become a writer. Many of my stories are set in Small Town Worlds. I'm a wife, mother, sibling and an aunt. I have a deep faith in God, and an exciting life in Christ. Maybe I shouldn't be (after all, he's God!) but I'm constantly amazed at the things He's up to. :)

One thought on “Along the Dusty Mainstreet

  1. Pingback: C-Town Story | Small Town World

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