Return to the Road: A Memorial and a Meal in Tulsa

It’s time for another “Return to the Road” post, in which I, yes, return to all of the road trip content that I wasn’t able to get to the first time around. My previous post in the series focused on Oklahoma City; today we move on to Tulsa.

I was in Tulsa in order to check out the Drillers at still-new ONEOK Field, and that experience is already thoroughly documented. I mean, seriously. Like, for real.

But after taking in the game on Friday evening, I spent Saturday late morning/early afternoon checking out the area surrounding the ballpark. It’s located in Tulsa’s Greenwood District, which was once known as “Black Wall Street.”  There is some serious history here, including a sickening act of mass violence that every American should know about.

My hotel was located about a mile or so from the ballpark, and as I wandered over there Tulsa felt empty and quiet — sleeping in on a Saturday after another long work week, I suppose.

The purpose of my return to the Greenwood District was to visit John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park, located directly across the street from ONEOK Field.

Dr. John Hope Franklin was a civil rights activist and scholar best known for his seminal 1947 work From Slavery to Freedom. The non-profit John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation was founded in 2007, and it was this organization that envisioned and secured the funding for Reconciliation Park.

The Park memorializes the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, which is explained thusly (click to enlarge!):

Just the day before I had visited the memorial for the victims of the 1995 Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City, and now here I was contemplating another vicious act of violence. The motivations and methods of the two incidents are vastly different, but they are united in that they are both notable examples of domestic terrorism.

The park’s website explains that the following “represent actual images from the 1921 riot.”

“Hostility – A white man fully armed for assault”

“Humiliation – A black man with his hands raised in surrender”

“Hope – The white director of the Red Cross holding a black baby”

This is the “Tower of Reconciliation,” which “depicts the history of the African American struggle from Africa to America.”

The final word (again, click to enlarge):

Further memorializing can be found on the sidewalk outside of ONEOK Field, which pays tribute to the businesses destroyed in the riots:

Just around the block is North Greenwood Avenue, a quaint street filled with local businesses.

It was here that I found my lunch destination, one that was wholeheartedly recommended by several members of the Drillers’ front office staff: the self-explanatory “Fat Guy’s Burger Bar” (note the placement of the apostrophe; the place is named after one particular fat guy as opposed to a coalition of them).

This place is not for the faint (or weak) of heart, but the burgers were absolutely fantastic. From the website:

“We take two beef patties, put butter and cheese in between them, seal them up and then cook ’em. When it’s ready you have a burger with molten butter and cheese filling the inside.”

As you can see, most of those who have attempted to take the “Fat Guy Challenge” have failed. This is probably a good thing. The challenge: two pound patty, pound of bacon, two hot dogs, eight slices of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, choice of condiment and a pound of french fries.

When I was there, no one was attempting such a suicidal endeavor.

And I wasn’t about to, either. My order, in words:

The adjective above my name was the waitress’ opinion of me.

And, as it actually looked:

I’ve never been all that much of a burger guy, but this one was as good as it looks. In this new post-celiac disease era, I would have to order it sans bun. That seems a little absurd, but it would still be worth it. And the fries – those wonderful, wonderful “ballpark fries” — are okay! Not sure about which of the 16 dipping sauces are gluten-free, but I’m sure there would still be options.

And that’s about it for my supplemental Tulsa content. On the way back from the hotel I did take note of this notable piece of Tulsa architecture:

This trailer was parked in front of said building, and I would have liked to meet its owner.

The “I Believe Guy” is one Brian Jackson. From his website:

  • Brian Jackson, a Cherokee, Creek and Seminole Native American, is a Nationally known motivational speaker who uses true stories of how he has turned struggles into success. Brian has blown up over 6000 hot water bottles in his career, held the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Hot Water Bottle Burst” for over 3 1/2 years and the Guinness World Record for Blowing up until bursting 3 hot water bottles in 1 minute 8 seconds! He has been known to break walls of 2″ concrete bricks,  even on fire at times, has bent 1 1/2 ” of steel rebar over his head, torn a deck of playing cards in half in 3 seconds, and is known for making some awesome balloon animals!  His most impressive feat to date, “Heaviest Vehicle Lifted with Breath” 2520 pounds!

Somebody book this guy at a Minor League ballpark!


  1. Pingback: Return to the Road: Rancheros, Records, and Revitalization « Ben's Biz Blog

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