Friday, March 19, 2010

Staycation Day #2

Our original itinerary for the day was changed due to a couple closings, so we decided to move along to another itinerary, which served us just fine! ;)
But first, a little lesson in history...
"Following World War II, Troy N. Smith Sr., Sonic's founder, returned to his hometown of Shawnee, Oklahoma where he became employed as a milkman. He then decided to work delivering bread because bread was not as heavy. He soon purchased the Cottage Cafe, a little café in Shawnee. Before long he sold it and opened a restaurant, Troy's Pan Full of Chicken, on the edge of Shawnee. In 1953, he added a small root-beer stand, the Top Hat Drive-In, to the property. After realizing that the stand was averaging US$700 a week in the sale of root beer, hamburgers and hot dogs, Smith decided to focus on the more-profitable drive-in and scrapped plans to expand the restaurant into a fancier steakhouse.
Originally, Top Hat customers would park their automobiles anywhere on the gravel parking lot and walk up to place their orders. However, on a trip to Louisiana, Smith saw a drive-in that used speakers for ordering. He realized that he could increase his sales if he could control the parking and have the customers order from speakers at their cars. Carhops would then deliver the food to the customers. Smith borrowed several automobiles from a friend who owned a used-car lot to establish a layout for controlled parking. He also had some so-called "jukebox boys" come in and wire an intercom system in the parking lot. Sales tripled immediately and his little root-beer stand was a huge success.
Charles Woodrow Pappe, an entrepreneur, stopped — by chance — at the Shawnee drive-in and was very impressed. He got out of his car and began to take measurements of the stalls, trying to determine why they were not all the same size, assuming that it was an essential ingredient of the business plan. Smith came out and introduced himself and explained that the stalls were different sizes simply because different-sized automobiles had been used when he laid out everything. The two men hit it off and, in 1956, negotiated the first franchise location in Woodward, Oklahoma. By 1958, two more drive-ins were built in Enid and Stillwater, Oklahoma.
Upon learning that the Top Hat name was already trademarked, Smith and Pappe changed the name to Sonic. The new name worked with their existing slogan "Service with the Speed of Sound". After the name change, the first Sonic sign was installed at the former Top-Hat Drive-In in Stillwater. Because the first Sonic sign was installed there, the Stillwater location has been considered to be the first Sonic Drive-In; the original sign can still be seen in Stillwater.
Although Smith and Pappe were being asked to help open new franchise locations, there was, however, no royalty plan in place. The pair decided to have their paper company charge an extra penny for each Sonic-label hamburger bag it sold. The proceeds were to split fifty-fifty between Smith and Pappe. The first franchise contracts under this plan were drawn up by Smith's landlord, O.K. Winterringer, who was also a lawyer. At the time, there was no joint marketing plan or standardized menu and few operating requirements.

After our lunch date at the first Sonic, we headed up to the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State University, to see "Old Central".This was the original campus building, and where my "gma Mable" went to school as a young woman long ago.
"Old Central is the oldest building on the Oklahoma State University campus in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Originally built in 1894, it was the first permanent building on the Oklahoma A&M campus. Old Central's bell clapper once served as a traveling trophy in the Bedlam Series athletics rivalry between Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma. The new "Bedlam Bell" is a crystal trophy modeled after Old Central's bell and is awarded to the winner of each individual athletics contest in addition to the overall series winner for each year.
We were able to see the bell pull rope, though it was behind plexiglass doors (they must have known we were coming with 6 little grabby hands!)
The construction contract for Old Central was awarded on June 20, 1893. Many students, wanting their own building as soon as possible, assisted the fifty-man construction crew. Students received ten cents per hour for menial jobs, such as carrying bricks and water to the masons.
You can see the original bricks and mortar from the glass elevator. You are sent down (or up) an elevator shaft that has been built where they left the original interior wall.
Dedication ceremonies were held on June 15, 1894. Classes began in the structure on September 15, with 144 students in attendance. The College Building, as it was originally known, was the only permanent campus building until 1900. The Chemistry Department, which had occupied the basement, moved into a new building west of "The College."
Shifting red permian clay soil and Old Central's native sandstone foundation proved to be an unfortunate combination. The shifting clay movement against the soft sandstone foundation caused serious structural cracks. In 1914 two large tie-rods were installed in an effort to stabilize the building. Condemnation of Old Central became official in 1925, but space on campus was badly needed; so the building continued to be used until early 1927 when falling plaster slightly injured a student.
Major work in 1930 put the building back into use until 1969 when the last regular classes were held. Oklahoma State University leased Old Central to the Oklahoma Historical Society in July 1971; the building was also placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Exterior restoration which began in 1973, was completed in 1989 with the installation of a metal shingle roof to duplicate the original roofing.
On October 10, 2007, a new construction project began that gave the 113-year old building a $7 million restoration and renovation. Oklahoma state and university officials, including Oklahoma State University System CEO and Interim President Marlene Strathe and Oklahoma Historical Society Executive Director Bob Blackburn, were on hand to ring the Old Central bell to mark the start of construction. The project would give Old Central a new foundation and place students in the building once again. When the renovation is completed in December 2008, the building will become the new home of the OSU Honors College and continue to house the Oklahoma Museum of Higher Education. The renovation was funded by the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education capital lease program. In July 2009 the building has been fully restored and is now open."

The original steeple atop this tower's roof was inside for viewing. It was pretty torn up. I guess the Oklahoma storms may have taken its toll on it!


Afterwards, we headed home for some fun play outside in the beautiful 67 degree weather before the snowstorm hits tonight. (Welcome to Oklahoma!)

Now, Day 3 is here and we must get ready for it! The storm is supposed to arrive late this afternoon, so we'd better get moving! :)
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