A for sale sign was pounded into the hard Oklahoma clay in front of the red brick house on the corner of 94th East Ave. & 40th Street. The following open letter lay on the kitchen counter inside the once bustling abode.
This 2300 square foot red brick house at the southeast corner of 94th East Avenue & 40th Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma was built about 1969 by a builder named Hammera (sic). That same year Woody and Wanda Smith purchased it for about $23,000.
Woody had settled comfortably into his familiar old home on Yorktown, however, Wanda had dreams of a new house with a formal living room, a family room, new period furniture, backyard flower gardens and lots more space. They made a $10,000 down payment, took out a ten-year mortgage and moved into their first brand new home.
Before removing the plastic runners that protected the new rose colored carpets, several loads of topsoil were imported to level the backyard and Wanda busily planned her gardens. Bird baths, statues and flower bed borders were at the top of her list. Woody contributed a new comfortable lounge chair for the patio and a hammock for his after work naps. He soon discovered that the hammock was not compatible with the south wind so prevalent in the area and donated it to a booster club rummage sale.
Woody & Wanda worked together structuring their gardens. The old clothes line pole that stands at attention in the east flower bed is a relic from the home place on Yorktown. Together they manufactured the stepping stones that make up the backyard paths.
Indeed, Wanda's favorite spot was in her gardens. Sharing their splendor brought her much pleasure. Hardly a visitor returned home without a pot or paper bag filled with 'starts.' To the grateful recipient she would say, "Thank me for my kindness, but not for the flowers. They are from a hand far greater than mine. I'm just the keeper of the garden."
Those first few years in their new home were filled with furniture shopping and decorators with window treatment books and wallpaper samples. The Smiths purchased new furniture that included two sets of cherry and a pecan set for the bedrooms, French Provincial for the living room and dining room and over-stuffed comfortable country seating for the family room. Antiques and family heirlooms were incorporated into each room's decor. Favorite colors were blue, green and rose.
The exterior of their new home was dark red brick trimmed in white with brown accent. The family room had parquet floors and a wood-burning fireplace. Soft rose carpet covered the living room, hall and bedrooms.
Through the years, white siding replaced the original trim on the house, the parquet floor now rests beneath a blanket of carpet and the wood-burning fireplace relented to gas logs. The carpeted floors have seen many changes. After Woody's death, Wanda replaced the carpet, one room at a time, as finances allowed.
Holidays were very special family times for the Smiths. The exterior of their home was trimmed with red and green lights and candles illuminated each window to celebrate Christmas. A gold wreath welcomed holiday visitors. A white flocked Christmas tree decorated with gold accent stood tall in the living room window. As the couple grew older, a large artificial tree trimmed with red birds and bows replaced the flocked tree. Its traditional spot was near the glass doors in the family room. Each Christmas, Woody, who was fond of gadgets, managed to find the latest Christmas fun-fad to add to the holiday spirit.
Many holiday dinners were served from the dining room table. Wanda's specialties were her baked apples and candied sweet potatoes. She kept the recipe for both tucked away in her mind. Her grand finale, at age 89 years, was Thanksgiving 2001. She served dinner for eight with only one mishap . . . a slightly crisp turkey. Her grandson rushed to the deli and purchased a cooked-to-perfection turkey breast to rescued her dignity.
Woody's favorite spot in the house was a large comfortable beige chair that nestled in the corner of the family room near the fireplace. There he was within arms reach of the bookshelves that held the objects of his most enjoyable pastime, reading western novels. His next favorite spot was his 'library' in the master bathroom. Wanda liked to recline on the couch that faced the fireplace. Usually there was a copy of the latest Country Living magazine not far away.
Two topics of debate were never encouraged in this house . . . politics and religion. Woody was a 'Yellow Dog Democrat' who saw no need to debate an issue. His mind was made up and others were free to think anything that pleased them. Wanda had no interest in politics. The Smiths were Presbyterian and whatever other folks thought or believed was okay with them as long as they kept it to themselves.
Their home was ideal for hosting parties, showers and other celebrations. The last celebration was March of 2002 . . . Wanda's 90th birthday party. The Smiths hosted many after-the-game parties in their home. Family members often borrowed it to host showers for folks with whom Woody & Wanda were only distantly acquainted.
Throughout the years this house marked many events in Smith family history. A grandson held his rehearsal dinner in the backyard. The family celebrated the birth of two great-grandchildren. At the age of eighty-four, Wanda, who had been alone for sixteen years, married a life long friend, William McGarrah. Other milestone celebrations included four baptisms and eight graduations. Several lives ended during those years at the corner of 40th & 94th East Avenue. Woody died in 1980 . . . their son, Jim, in 1994 . . . and both Wanda and William in 2002. Wanda's brother, Wayne, was visiting in their home when he died of a heart attack.
This house served as a second home for many out-of-towners. Regulars through the years were their grandson, granddaughter-in-law and two great-grandchildren; a friend from Arkansas; a snowbird sister from Iowa and Texas; a commuting brother from Oklahoma City; and an aunt from Rockford, Illinois. A niece made this house her home while attending college. It became an after school home for two neighborhood girls who stayed with the Smiths while their mother worked.
Visitors were not only welcome, they were treasured. Friends and relatives, alike, knew there was a 'Welcome Mat' at the front door of the Smith home. They never failed to include a stop-over in their travel plans. The lasts to visit were kinfolks from Florida and Oregon in 2002.
The time has now come to part with the red brick house at the corner of 94th East Avenue and 40th Street, but not with the memories. Memories of this house and the people who made it their home will forever warm our hearts.
We wish you happiness while you build your memories in this Red Brick House on the 'Conner.'
Content © 2008 · S.W. Smith Family