5 March 2005
Saturday spottings (on the edge)
Generally, southeast Oklahoma City comes to an end at Pottawatomie Road, the far side of the 21900 block east, the beginning of Pottawatomie County. But there's a half-section beyond this point, and that's where I was headed today.
When you're this far from the center of things, you don't expect to find much in the way of city services, although I did see an actual Oklahoma City police vehicle patrolling near SE 130th and Peebly Road, and a few driveways sported the standard city trash containers. Otherwise, it's your standard exurban/rural area, large lots with an incredible variety of houses, the trashiest of trailers to the niftiest new construction, interrupted here and there by convenience stores and churches. This is not the place to go looking for a Burger King. (Indeed, one shouldn't look for a Burger King anywhere in the city these days: every one I've seen lately has closed up shop.)
What makes this little 320-acre parcel beyond the county line unusual is that it's literally inaccessible from the rest of the city. Pottawatomie Road runs along the western edge of it, but there are no eastbound roads; to get there, you have to get onto Fishmarket Road, by taking either SE 89th (which becomes Memorial Road) or SE 119th (which becomes Homer Lane) and going a mile east. Lake Drive (SE 104th) is the northern boundary of the spread, which extends half a mile to the south between Pottawatomie and Fishmarket. This part of Pottawatomie County is unincorporated and apparently largely unserviced: the McLoud post office delivers the mail, and street signs are likely to be handmade. Lake Drive itself is maybe a lane and a third wide. One southbound road, called Eastway, shows up half a mile to the west, but that's it. I am normally not a big fan of deannexation, but I honestly can't think of any reason why Oklahoma City should hold onto this remote tract.
I pushed on northward and wound up in Green Pastures, east of Spencer, an area annexed to Oklahoma City during the late 1950s. Green Pastures is mostly rural, not unlike that remote corner of Pottawatomie County, but its population is largely black. (We forget sometimes that at statehood, about 8 percent of Oklahomans had African ancestry.) Parts of it are spellbindingly beautiful; parts of it are scary. Sometimes they're the same parts. I really need to go back through there again and get a better look. (Ironically, I used to live a lot closer to there, but never made the effort to see it.) To the east of Green Pastures is an area called Dunjee Park, named for Roscoe Dunjee, legendary editor of the Black Dispatch.
Most of my Spottings excursions don't run 100 miles. This one did. And frankly, I needed the reminder that there's a lot more to the city than downtown, Bricktown, and what's around the corner. Mayor Cornett said in his State of the City address: "For over 100 years, we've been a City that has grown and expanded on the edges." We pretty much had to: after all, we got our first ten thousand residents in the first 24 hours.Posted at 7:13 PM to City Scene