Category Archives: Osage County

August: Osage County

I had a day off today so Heather and I went to see August: Osage County with Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep. It is a movie about a dysfunctional ( I mean really dysfunctional) family living in rural northeast Oklahoma. It is based on a play by Traci Letts (that we saw about four years ago).


We loved the movie. Meryl Streep playing the drug addicted matriarch dominated the movie. She owned the mean old bitter cynical character so much that I almost began to hate her.


Julia Roberts as the oldest daughter could almost match the mother for meanness and cruelty. The movie, like the play, is almost explosive in tone. You feel that thing could get violent very easily. Decades old lies and resents me are roiling and simmering just ready to break out.

Of course everybody says that the movie is not as good as the play. Well yeah!! Movies are never as good as the books either. I think you have to judge a work for its own self not compared to what it was derived from.


I’ll be honest. I also liked the movie because it was based on a play set in Oklahoma. Osage County is right outside Tulsa. The play was written by an Okie: Traci Letts. I have never met him but I met his mother Billie Letts, author of Where the Heart is. I know that makes me provincial and parochial to some. I don’t really care.


Osage County is a magical place. Home of huge ranches and wide open spaces, oil fields and home of the Osage Tribe. It’s a great place to go to get your head on straight. The movie, more than the play could, provides a sense of place that is Oklahoma.


Anyway, this Okie strongly suggests that you go see the movie if you can.

October, Osage County – Signs

This past Saturday I traveled up to  Osage County, Oklahoma to run a race on Frank Phillips old ranch, Woolaroc (“Wood Lakes Rocks”). Afterward I drove over to the old oilfield town of Barnsdall. Turned out that Barnsdall had some nice old signs.

Barnsdall Signs.jpg

Barnsdall is the birthplace of Anita Bryant. Everybody calm down, I know that she became controversial but she has been gone some time now. It always fascinates me where people come from. I’m always asking where people are from. Except for people from Texas. If people are from Texas that is pretty much front loaded in the conversation. They will not ask you where you are from though, they figure that if you are from Texas you’d of already told them, and they don’t want to embarrass you in case you are not from there.

Anyway, Barnsdall claims fame to the world’s only Main Street Oil Well. Here is the sign.


And here is the well.


I don’t want to burst anybody’s bubble. But I don’t think the well is operating any more. In fact it hasn’t produced in decades. I have access to databases that tell me that it is no longer an oil well. Also they say it is the only “Main Street” oil well. I worked in the San Andres field in the Permian Basin of Texas. They had wells drilled in several streets. That’s right, they just took over the whole street. None of the wells were on “Main Street” though.

Hey you know who else is from Barnsdall?

Yep, Clark Gable lived there for a few years when his father worked in the oil fields. I’m telling you Barnsdall is a good place to be from.


Barnsdall turned out to be a good place for sign photos.


The original name for Barnsdall was “Bigheart” it got changed about a hundred years ago.


The downtown area had some old buildings and interesting signs.

Barnsdall is a nice little town with a lot of history. For one thing it is where my employer, ONEOK, got started way back on October 12, 1906 with a pipeline that moved gas from the Barnsdall area to Oklahoma City.  The company history is wild and wooly reflective of the booms and busts of the energy industry. I love it. Check out a slightly outdated version here.

Oh, by the way, Where are you from? I’m from Espanola, New Mexico originally. My parents lived closer to Santa Fe but Dad called around while Mom was expecting and Espanola was birthing babies cheaper. Kind of set the tone for my whole life. I’ve been looking for deals ever since.

Signs, Signs