Windsor Hills History, Part 2 of 3

This is the second of three posts about the history of the Windsor Hills neighborhood in northwest Oklahoma City, where my parents lived from 1978-2022. The previous post covered the period from the Civil War through the 1950s. This post covers the neighborhood’s initial layout and the Windsor Hills Shopping Center.

Windsor Hills Beginnings

Ella Classen, owner of the fruit farm and the land leased out for the golf course which later became Windsor Hills, died in 1955. On June 13, 1959, a newspaper article detailed developer Ben C. Wileman’s 368-acre Windsor Hills venture. Wileman was born in 1908 in Stubblefield, Texas. He graduated from Altus High in 1925 and worked in the lumber industry until 1939. Between 1940-1960, he constructed over 3,000 homes in Midwest City, Oklahoma City, El Reno, Elk City, and elsewhere. In 1946, he was one of six organizing members of the National Association of Home Builders. He developed the Belle Isle and Windsor Hills neighborhoods and the Penn Square, Windsor Hills, and Shartel shopping centers.

His initial plan for Windsor Hills included a 287,000 square foot shopping center, over 1,400 homes costing from $25,000 to $100,000, a series of apartment buildings, and a community-owned park with tennis courts and a swimming pool. Some of that vision became reality, but not all of it. Wileman and partner Walter Jones also planned a five-acre business development south of 23rd street across from the shopping center with an apartment building, service station, and shops.

Donal Hummer’s former home in Ann Arbor Estates

By then, Wileman had already begun developing the heavily wooded Meridian Hills area west of Ann Arbor and south of 36th, expecting to soon begin building houses there. Those new streets enclosed a large lot occupied by a 4,732 square foot long, low ranch home built in 1951. Eventually, that lot was subdivided into Ann Arbor Estates with eight homes around the original sprawling central house. As a kid, I always wondered what that huge home in the middle, with grass growing on part of its roof, was like inside. Now Zillow provides a peek.

Once my father and I visited a man who lived in Meridian Hills along Ann Arbor. In his three-car garage, he could press a button that lowered an immense model railroad from the ceiling. I think it was HO scale. My only model train was a simple Lionel O scale set my father had picked up at a garage sale, and I remember as a kid being shocked at how expensive it was to just buy a mechanical semaphore for it at a hobby shop. I was staggered to think of the time and investment that Meridian Hills man had made in his adult hobby.

Wileman planned to sell most of the lots east of Ann Arbor, which would become Windsor Hills, to a group of builders. Below is a newspaper graphic, although it has a red overlay that was shifted a bit to the right when archived.

The original Windsor Hills development plan; the red overlay is shifted a bit to the right; streets that were later deleted are in red, and added streets are in yellow. We lived on Tudor Road, which originally was going to be part of Windsor Boulevard.

While much of the initial street layout for Windsor Hills is recognizable, it was altered considerably as I’ve shown above, where deleted streets are in red and added ones are in yellow. Cutting up the east-west streets calmed the traffic in the neighborhood, although I don’t know if that was the central motivation for the changes. The adjusted layout meant traffic concentrated on 26th and 29th/30th, with Tudor Rd/Windsor Blvd as the only north-south through street.

As an aside, the article with that graphic, which included Wileman’s development scheme, was from the June 14, 1959 edition of The Daily Oklahoman. That Sunday edition was 189 pages! My parents subscribed to receive The Daily Oklahoman every morning and the Oklahoma City Times on weekday afternoons, so I grew up seeing them perusing some huge newspapers — what a contrast to the dying newspapers available sixty years later.

I’ve added to the graphic some of the later neighborhoods as well as a couple of typical Oklahoma City features: oil field equipment lots. Each has a pumpjack for an oil well and multiple collection tanks. Bartlesville’s H.V. Foster struck oil south of the old Oklahoma City limits in late 1928. By 1930, the city council limited drilling to one well per city block and declared some areas off-limits. Flagrant violations led Governor Alfalfa Bill Murray to declare martial law in 1932 to support the city council until the legislature brought oil production under some control. But then again, Alfalfa Bill was a wild character who called out the National Guard 47 times and declared martial law more than 30 times.

The pumpjack on the oil field lot between Windsor Terrace and Meridian Court

Before most of the houses were built in Windsor Hills, Ben Wileman would construct the shopping center at 23rd and Meridian.

Windsor Hills Shopping Center

A 1959 sketch of the shopping center is close to what was originally built. From left to right it showed O’Mealey’s cafeteria, C.R. Anthony Co., and Kresge in the western building. The eastern building showed Hyde’s Drug, an OTASCO (Oklahoma Tire & Supply Company), and a Kimberling’s IGA grocery store. Twenty years later, those were all there for me to visit, except for Kresge and OTASCO.

1959 sketch of Windsor Hills Shopping Center
Opening day in June 1960

The formal ribbon cutting in late July was conducted with banker Harvey P. Everest, Miss Oklahoma Kay Creed, Mayor James Norick (his son, Ron, would be mayor in the 1990s), and Glenn Faris, the secretary of the chamber of commerce.

Original newspaper caption: Another New Shopping Center for Oklahoma City, Windsor Hills at NW 23 and Meridian, was launched officially Thursday with this ribbon-cutting ceremony in which the participants, left to right, were Harvey P. Everest, banker and civic leader; Kay Creed, Enid, new “miss Oklahoma’; Mayor Norick, and Glenn W. Faris, secretary of the chamber of commerce. Staff Photo by Cobb, Dick.
Grand Opening ad in The Daily Oklahoman on July 28, 1960

As a junior high kid in the late 1970s, I loved riding my bicycle to the shopping center. Back in Bethany, I didn’t learn to ride a bike until late in elementary school, and I could only ride my bike between 30th and 36th Streets from Mueller Avenue east to MacArthur Blvd. Each boundary street had too much traffic for me to cross safely. So the only store I could reach was a small, decaying old neighborhood grocery store with dusty items located at 36th Street & College Avenue. I would have loved to ride south to the 7-Eleven convenience store at 23rd & College, but that was beyond 30th. I only tried to cross 30th once on my bike, and I nearly got hit. I never tempted fate again after that experience.

My neighborhood in Bethany, west of Windsor Hills, when I was in elementary school

But once we moved to Windsor Hills, I could easily ride my bike down Tudor Road to the big shopping center, where my new friends and I would browse the various stores. It was wonderful!

Windsor Hills Shopping Center as I knew it

TG&Y

Raymond Young ran TG&Y until 1970

Independent merchants Rawdon Tomlinson of Frederick, Les Gosselin of Cordell, and Raymond Young of Kingfisher came together during the Great Depression to build a warehouse in Oklahoma City that stocked five-and-dime discount stores in rural communities and small towns. They named their new venture after themselves as TG&Y. They started with stores of 6,000-8,000 square feet but by the 1960s were expanding into urban centers with Family Centers that were 40,000 square feet.

A driver backed into the Windsor Hills TG&Y in 1967

By 1967, a TG&Y was in the Windsor Hills center; I found a photograph of a car that backed into the store that year. In 1973, Ben Wileman announced that the TG&Y in Windsor Hills would build one of their Family Centers at the west end of the center. That same year, Streets and B.C. Clark Jewelers announced plans to move into some of the space TG&Y would be vacating.

In the 1980s, TG&Y tried expanding some stores into department stores, including the one in Windsor Hills. It grew to 72,000 square feet, and I loved to browse through it, looking at the immense array of inexpensive items. Back then, Wal-Mart avoided areas with TG&Ys.

I learned about rebranding at that TG&Y. I remember being startled to see a small color television with TG&Y’s Golden T branding. I knew there was no way that TG&Y was actually building televisions, so I realized they were rebranding some manufacturer’s units as their own. Then I noticed there was Golden T motor oil, fans, yarn, etc.

I remember how they added a snack bar at the north end of the store, which had a sign warning that those with pacemakers should be aware that it had a microwave in use. There was a drain pipe that stuck out of the back wall of the store, and I noticed it was loose. So we would mischievously ride up to it on our bikes, yank on it so it banged inside the wall to startle the workers in the snack bar, and then ride off at full tilt, laughing hysterically.

Later, as TG&Y struggled, they gradually emptied out the north end of the expanded store. In its final days, I remember one lonely clerk manning one register out of several at the north end, with no shelves or anything at that end of the store. The Windsor Hills TG&Y closed in 1982, when I was still in high school. A cafeteria and a pastry shop leased part of the space.

In 1988, Litchfield Theatres opened the Windsor Hills Cinema 10 north of the former TG&Y as a first-run house. I took my father to see Jurassic Park there before Regal took it over in 1994. Regal closed it in 2005, and it soon reopened as a discount house by Western Pacific Theater Group. B&B Theaters took it over in 2009 but closed it down in August 2019.

Nowadays the former TG&Y is a Goodwill Thrift Store and a clothing store, and ICON Cinema plans to reopen the movie house in early 2023 with over 900 recliners across its 10 theaters.

O’Mealey’s

Harvey and Patricia O’Mealey

Cafeterias were very popular from the 1940s into the 1960s. Oklahoma City had 37 independent cafeterias back then, and one of the first, Anna Maude’s, routinely served over 3,000 meals daily, with their record being 4,495 meals on October 10, 1948.

Ralph Geist partnered with Naomi O’Mealey in the first “suburban” cafeteria in Oklahoma City at 23rd and Classen. That Classen Cafeteria later became the first O’Mealey’s, but Naomi soon opened her own cafeteria at 23rd and Hudson, and she and her son, Harvey, would open four O’Mealey’s over the next 30 years, including one at the west end of the Windsor Hills Shopping Center.

The Windsor Hills cafeteria

I don’t recall eating there, but I did venture in one day as I made my way down the shopping center, attempting to sell ads for our junior high newspaper. I remember the manager of O’Mealey’s took pity on me, bringing me into a small side office and puffing on a cigarette as she filled out the paperwork to buy an ad. That was generous, as by then the company was about to fold.

That O’Mealey’s was sold in 1980 to two former Furr’s Cafeteria managers and renamed Farm Cafeteria. That died within a couple of years, and the space was leased to further expand the adjacent C.R. Anthony store. The last O’Mealey’s closed in 1982, although Harvey and his wife, Patricia, ran a pastry shop until 1994. Harvey logged 65 years of perfect attendance at the North OKC Rotary Club, and he and Patricia were ambassadors for Bricktown and Chesapeake Arena. Green was a favorite color of theirs, and I remember it being the color of their sign as well as prominent in the interior of O’Mealey’s. They both passed away in 2020.

C.R. Anthony’s

C.R. Anthony

Charles Ross Anthony learned retail by working in James Cash Penney‘s stores. In 1922, he opened his first store, the Dixie Store, in Cushing. He quickly opened more Dixie stores in Pawhuska, Hominy, and Barnsdall and a couple of C.R. Anthony stores in Anadarko and Chickasha. The company grew by using the profits on one store to finance another, with each manager training the next one, with each having a one-third partnership in the store.

Anthony opened his first store in Oklahoma City in 1939. By 1964, he had 300 stores west of the Mississippi River, including one in Windsor Hills. The store in Windsor Hills expanded in 1973 by about 50% to 14,000 square feet to add teen, children’s and ladies wear departments.

Anthony retired in 1972 and died in 1976. His grandson, Bob Anthony, sold the company to a Citicorp investor group in 1987 and was elected to five terms on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission beginning in 1989; he is term-limited in 2024. Stage Stores acquired Anthony’s in 1997 and went bankrupt in 2020. Later, dd’s Discounts occupied the old Anthony’s location in the Windsor Hills Shopping Center.

One memorable feature of Anthony’s in the old days was that the money was handled in an isolated office away from the sales floor and counter. Inbound cash, checks, and charges were placed in cylinders and sucked away in pneumatic tubes to a cash room, where checks and charges were processed with change and receipts returned via the tubes. I remember one of the former principals of Bartlesville High School sharing that she had once worked in an Anthony’s cash room at the hidden end of those pneumatic tubes which fascinated children like me.

Notice the pneumatic tubes at the sales counter in this Anthony’s, used to transport cash, checks, and receipts

I recall Anthony’s mostly as a clothing store, so I had to be dragged in there by my mother, even with its nifty pneumatic tubes; I never went in of my own volition.

Streets

Streets was a chain of clothing stores. Streets opened its twelth store, and seventh in Oklahoma City, at Windsor Hills in 1974. In 1980, they opened a store on the first floor of the First National Bank Center skyscraper downtown; my father had worked for Cities Service Gas about ten floors above that.

The new Street’s clothing store opened in Windsor Hills in 1974

I also dreaded being dragged into Streets, as they sold moderately priced women’s and children’s apparel. The company was founded in 1930 by Theodore Greenberg at a site on West Main in Oklahoma City, later occupied by the Sheraton Century Center. He was a retail pioneer, setting up customer charge accounts as early as 1931. That’s a strong contrast to James Cash Penney, who had insisted on a strict cash-and-carry policy in his Golden Rule and Penney’s stores to prevent customers from building up debt. But even Penney’s began selling items on credit in 1958.

A Streets matchbook cover

Streets opened its first branch store in 1949. Ted Greenberg died in 1980, and his son, Maynard, and Maynard’s cousin Ronald continued to run the stores. Streets opened a branch in Bartlesville’s Washington Park Mall in 1984. The chain peaked at 13 stores in 1987 and was once the largest women’s specialty store in the state. But its demise was approaching.

The Mayfair Shopping Center store in Oklahoma City and a Tulsa location closed later in 1987, and their downtown OKC store closed in March 1991. So they were down to 10 stores in October 1991 when they were unsuccessful in selling their seven stores in Oklahoma City and branch stores in Midwest City, Norman, and Bartlesville. Maynard and Ronny planned to retire, saying they would have preferred to sold the business, but couldn’t get an acceptable deal. Maynard said, “We’d like to retire with our heads held high.” But he added, “I feel like I’ve lost someone.” Streets closed for good on February 1, 1992.

B.C. Clark

I never went in B.C. Clark jewelers either, as I had neither the interest nor the funds for their offerings. But, like many Oklahomans, I grew up hearing their Anniversary Sale jingle on television each year from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

The BC Clark jingle has been a mainstay of Oklahoma City since 1956

The firm was founded by Benton Clyde Clark in Purcell in Indian Territory in 1892 in the corner of a five-and-dime store. Hence its claim to be Oklahoma’s oldest jeweler, and it is still in the family with three stores owned by Clark’s grandson and two great-grandsons.

Radio Shack

I was a nerd, so I had long enjoyed browsing in Radio Shack and perusing their catalogs. My parents bought me my first computer, a TRS-80 Color Computer with 32 kilobytes of memory, from one of its many stores. We later purchased a Tandy Color Computer 2 and a Tandy DWP-210 daisy wheel printer. For college, I got a Tandy Model 2000 with a Tandy DMP-430 dot matrix printer. See Granger’s Computers for all of the nerdy details.

Radio Shack was founded in Boston in 1921, and was bought out by Tandy Corporation, a leather goods company, in 1962. Tandy cut the number of items drastically and shifted from a few large stores to many small ones. Charles Tandy died in 1978, but Radio Shack continued to grow. It was the world’s largest manufacturer of personal computers by 1991 and reached 8,000 stores worldwide in 1999.

But Dell and other competitors led it to exit computer manufacturing in the 1990s and by 2011 smartphone sales accounted for half of its revenue. It went bankrupt in 2015, and it was bought by General Wireless, which itself went bankrupt in 2017 and was acquired by Retail Ecommerce Ventures.

Poor Richard’s

The shopping center originally had two large buildings split by a walkway running north-south, with a few shops along the walkway. Poor Richard’s was a barbecue restaurant that opened in the late 1970s or early 1980s at the north end in the west building. I ate there a few times, but I was never a fan of barbecue. I vaguely recall they used corrugated sheet metal in parts of the restaurant, and it had some outdoor seating that was seldom used. In 1982, Poor Richard’s opened a second location in a former steakhouse on Britton Road. As of 2022, Nice Seven Spa Massage was in the spot that was once Poor Richard’s.

Fred’s Barber Shop

A business I entered about every month from grade school into college was the Windsor Hills Barber Shop. It was along the breezeway between the two buildings, situated in the east building, with a beauty shop directly across from it in the west building. Inside it was a man who was a mainstay of the shopping center for over 50 years.

My mother began taking me there for haircuts back when we lived in Bethany. Fred Henderson obliged me with the bowl haircut I expected, adjusting it to keep the hair over the top of my ears at my request as I grew older. Fred could do a lot better than a bowl cut, but I guess he followed the mantra that the customer is always right!

I remember Fred getting out a piece of wood with padded leather upholstery over it that he placed across the arms of the chair to boost me up I was little, as he was quite tall, as you can see in the photos. Fred always gave me a piece of bubble gum from the drawer below the cash register when we checked out. One day, probably when I was in high school, he finally hesitated and asked me if I still wanted a piece of gum, and my refusal was another small rite of passage.

Fred Henderson at the cash register in his barber shop

After Fred graduated from Atoka high school, he went to work in a state highway construction crew. When the weather turned cold, he looked for inside work and enrolled in the Oklahoma City and State Barber College. His brother, Gary, owned two shops, one at NE 36th St and Kelley Avenue and the other in Windsor Hills, which Gary had bought from Johnny Moore. Fred cut hair for awhile and then served in the army in Korea for 13 months. In 1965, he married his wife, Judy. He then returned to Oklahoma City and worked in his brother’s shop in Windsor Hills. In June 1968, Fred bought the shop, the beauty salon across the breezeway, and a house from his brother. Judy ran the beauty shop until their two children were born, and they sold that shop in 1975.

In the 1970s, Fred learned the trademarked Roffler Sculptur Kut technique which used a straight edge razor, and he joined the Oklahoma state hairstyling team. They finished second in the nation in 1976 at the All American Spectacular in Chicago. He said they received a gold medal and a trophy, but no cash. He would go on to win various other hairstyling awards.

Fred Henderson owned and operated the Windsor Hills Barber Shop for over 50 years

When I was young, Fred had a stylish black pompadour in a Roffler Kut. But then one day Mom took me to the shop, and we were shocked to see that Fred was totally bald. Fred was a pretty quiet fellow, unlike Gene, a very talkative barber who rented one of the chairs in Fred’s shop for years. I was too shy to ask Fred about why he had lost his beautiful pompadour, but later my mother was sitting in the waiting area and the man next to her struck up a conversation. He was Fred’s dad, and he shared that Fred’s hair just started falling out one day and was quickly gone.

Fred eventually owned 30 rental homes. When Oklahoma City was putting together an advisory board for the first MAPS (Metropolitan Area Projects) capital improvement program in 1993, city councilman Frosty Peak, one of Fred’s customers, nominated him for the board since he was experienced in both business and real estate. Fred said it was interesting work and that for every taxpayer’s dollar that was spent, they were hoping to get a dollar of private money invested, and it ended up far exceeding that. MAPS was instrumental in improving OKC.

Fred had colon cancer in 1995, and a foot of his colon was removed, but he recovered. He finally retired in 2019 at age 73, having owned and operated the barber shop for 51 years. He said he planned to spend his leisure time managing his rental properties and doing some deer hunting and fishing on land he owned near Mulhall.

Hyde Drug

Another store that I enjoyed browsing in as a kid was Hyde Drug. Homer C. Hyde was born in Holdenville, and moved with his parents to Oklahoma City in 1918, attending the public schools and then Oklahoma City University. He founded the firm in 1939, pioneering self-service and discount drug merchandising in the city. His first store was at NW 50th St and Shartel Avenue. He eventually had nine stores, forming the city’s oldest and largest independent retail drug chain, until selling the firm to Eckerd Corporation in 1996.

Homer enjoyed running and exercise, and the Hyde Foundation offered scholarships to undergraduate and medical students. He shared his love of literature with prisoners at El Reno Penitentiary, and he passed away in 1997.

The shopping center in 1978; Hyde Discount Drug is at the left at the western end of the eastern building

I remember buying my first oscillating fan at Hyde’s, selecting it from a row of fans that were lined up on a shelf, all blowing away. I remember how Hyde’s was one of the stores that played background music while you shopped. Hyde’s store was part of the center’s grand opening in 1961, and grew over the years to take over the space originally occupied by Jean-Lee, Inc.

In 1987 it shifted just eastward within the shopping center into a 21,384 square foot space with $200,000 in remodeling. Its former space was later subdivided into a series of smaller stores.

Henry Higgins

I always loved reading, so I was excited when the Henry Higgins Bookstore opened in Windsor Hills next to Kimberling’s IGA. I didn’t know back then that Tag Kimberling owned that store as well. I spent hours browsing its shelves, and I remember how when Isaac Asimov released Foundation’s Edge in 1982, almost thirty years after the original Foundation Trilogy, they had a pile of those hardbacks displayed in the window. I usually could only afford paperbacks, but was willing to shell out a big chunk of my allowance to get my hands on that book.

It was in Henry Higgins that I spotted Invisible Man and was surprised that instead of a science fiction book by H.G. Wells it was a very different novel by Ralph Ellison. While I bought Foundation’s Edge at Henry Higgins back then, I passed on Ellison’s book, not reading it until decades later. While on a flight to Oregon for our honeymoon, Wendy was reading Honky Tonk Samurai while I was following up on her recommendation to finally read Ellison’s Invisible Man. I’m glad I did. Ellison was from OKC and won the National Book Award for that work in 1953.

Kimberling’s

C.F. “Tag” Kimberling

Carroll Franklin “Tag” Kimberling was born in 1919. He graduated from Putnam City High and attended Oklahoma City University on a basketball scholarship. After serving in World War II, he joined his parents in their Oklahoma City grocery business, which he carried on for 39 years as Kimberling’s Supermarkets.

Scott Meacham grew up in rural Oklahoma, and recalled in 2015 how as a kid it was a treat to go to Oklahoma City to see his grandparents. He loved going with his grandmother to one of the Kimberling grocery stores, where she would deposit him in a tiny movie theater where he could watch cartoons until she was done shopping. It was a different era!

In the mid-1970s, Kimberling’s had scaled back from five stores to just the one at Windsor Hills and another at NW 50th and Shartel. You might recognize that intersection as where Homer C. Hyde had opened his first drugstore.

Snyder’s Discount Foods purchased Kimberling’s IGA in Windsor Hills in 1982, the same year that Penn Square Bank failed, which precipitated a crisis in the entire banking system. Ben Wileman, the developer of Windsor Hills, had organized the bank but had sold it in 1972. Tag Kimberling was one of the directors and shareholders in Penn Square’s holding company, First Penn Corp., and in 1984 the FDIC filed a $138 million lawsuit against him and other bank officers. Tag passed away in 1999.

Snyder’s built a new store on the east end of Windsor Hills Shopping Center in 1986-1987 for $1.5 million. That increased the center’s overall retail space to 300,000 square feet. The Snyder’s was sold to Crest in 2004 for $2.4 million, and Crest spent another $4.5 million remodeling the 48,000 square foot store, which was about the half the size of their full-size stores.

Changing Ownership

Windsor Hills developer Ben Wileman died in 1998. Houston-based Weingarten Realty Investors owned the shopping center for awhile, and in 2014, Square Deal Capital bought it for $11 million. By then, its tenants included Dollar Tree, B&B Theaters, Radio Shack, Cato, Goodwill Donation Center, Aaron’s rent-to-own, and dd’s Discount Store. In 2022, Windsor Hills LLC bought the center for a bit over $9 million from SDI-Windsor Hills LLC.

Windsor Lanes

When I was a little boy, my parents bowled at the Hilander Bowling Palace a couple of miles from Windsor Hills

One business across 23rd Street from the Windsor Hills Shopping Center deserves some attention: the Windsor Lanes bowling alley. Bowling alleys blossomed in Oklahoma City after World War II, with over 20 spread around town by 1961. My mother belonged to bowling leagues, and when I briefly visited the Hilander Bowling Palace at the intersection of Independence Avenue and Northwest Expressway before it closed in 1990, vague memories of its layout and nursery came flooding back.

As a kid, I was interested in the overhead projectors they used in league games to project the scoring sheets up above the lanes. Seeing the shadows of huge hands and pencils writing on the wall made me think of King Belshazzar’s banquet in Daniel 5 of the Christian Bible. In it a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall, with only Daniel able to interpret the writing. Bowling scores looked about as incomprehensible when I was a little kid.

Judy the bowling chimpanzee was before my time!

Windsor Lanes is an AMF alley just across 23rd Street from the shopping center that has 40 lanes. It was built in 1960, although it had some rocky moments.

In 1961 it closed to resurface its lanes, and promoted its reopening with appearances by Judy, the world’s only bowling chimpanzee, who carried an average score of 92 using a regulation 16 pound ball, shooting at full weight pins. C. Terry Cline, Jr., a slender redhead from Thomasville, Georgia, had trained Judy Rose to bowl, and they appeared at alleys across the country. He said at the time, “I wouldn’t trade this way of making a living for any other.” Terry later had a Land Alive program that brought exotic animals to schools. At age 37, he sold his business to concentrate on writing novels, selling his first novel at 40, and ten of his novels were published before his death in 2013.

On April 30, 1970, a tornado ripped off the north half of the roof at Windsor Lanes, displacing 30 leagues across five other alleys for a few months. Hilander fitted in seventeen of the leagues, Sixty-Six Bowl took six, Meridian Lanes took five, and Bowlarena and Coronado Lanes took one each. I didn’t find any notice that Judy Rose made a return appearance for that reopening.

Windsor Lanes had long counters behind the lanes along the edges of an elevated platform in the middle of the building, with 20 lanes to each side. The loaner bowling balls were stored in racks on the side of the counters facing the alleys.

I have small hands and feet (cue the jokes), so during puberty I had trouble finding loaner balls with finger holes that weren’t too far apart, often having to settle for a wimpy 8-pounder. I couldn’t use my mother’s bowling ball, since the holes drilled in it were closer together but were too narrow for my short stubby fingers.

When I was bowling there, Windsor had slick colorful metal seats linked together that weren’t very comfortable. The ball returns had buttons in the center of the return ring for each lane that you pressed to trigger your lane’s mechanism if the automatic Brunswick pinsetter didn’t clear it and return your ball. Another button turned on a fan to shoot air out of the rack so you could dry your hands.

I liked how the automatic pinsetters had lights telling you which pins were in place, making it easier to do your hand scoring. There were also 1 and 2 lights on the side to indicate which part of a frame you were on, and the light under the crown would light up when you had a spare or strike. Now, of course, all scoring is fully automated.

Automatic Brunswick pinsetters similar to what they once had at Windsor Lanes

My friends and I also enjoyed playing pool and pinball at the alley. The pool tables were often busy, and you would place a quarter on the edge to claim the next game, since you had to put quarters in a mechanism to release a fresh set of balls. Video arcade games appeared during my teenage years, but I was never any good at those.

One oddball nerdy memory is how in high school a friend hosted a Tupperware Party, which in turn prompted my girlfriend to host one, and then she asked me to host one so that she could get extra items. I thought we needed a gimmick to get people to come, so we hosted a combination Tupperware & Bowling Party. The Tupperware sales portion was held in my parents’ den, and I wanted an animated graphic on the television during that portion, before we decamped to Windsor Lanes.

In the early 1980s there was no PowerPoint. But I had a TRS-80 Color Computer, so I programmed the graphics in Extended Color BASIC. As I did with other graphics programs at the time — including many focused on Star Trek, The Original Series — I drew on pixel paper the imagery. Then I hand coded the coordinates of the line segments, shapes, and paint fills. I still have those paper layouts from almost forty years ago.

And yes, decades later, I still have some of the Tupperware from those parties in the kitchen at Meador Manor. Tupperware was expensive as all get out, but it was built to last.

Now almost everything at AMF Windsor Lanes has changed since I last bowled there 40 years ago, but it is one of several bowling alleys still operating in Oklahoma City.

Part 3

In the next and final post in this series about Windsor Hills, I’ll look at the neighborhood’s homes and schools, and how the area changed over the forty-four years my parents lived there.

About Granger Meador

I enjoy day hikes, photography, podcasts, reading, web design, and technology. My wife Wendy and I work in the Bartlesville Public Schools in northeast Oklahoma, but this blog is outside the scope of our employment.
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2 Responses to Windsor Hills History, Part 2 of 3

  1. Carrie Fleharty says:

    Thank you for taking us all down memory lane. As you know I’m from Cushing, I loved going in the C. R. Anthony’s store. I know exactly where that very first store was located. I have fond memories of shopping there with my mother. The fascinating aspect were the tubes that took money from the check out counter to the upstairs offices. I remember looking up there to see the clerks do their job. I still miss that store.

  2. John Zimmerman says:

    Memory Lane indeed. I grew up in Bethany and lived in Northwest OKC for over 30 years. My last home was in Belle Isle at 62nd and Pennsylvania Avenue before I move to Tulsa 22 years ago. I know of the people, places, neighborhoods and events you so thoroughly researched. I remember the TG&Y store and C.R. Anthony’s on Northwest 39th Street in downtown Bethany. There were also several stores and shops owned by parents of classmates downtown across from Bethany Nazarene College (BNC) now Southern Nazarene University (SNU),
    Payne Office Supply, John T. Brown Clothing Store and Bates Shoe Store (owned by the father of two classmates and the husband of my piano teacher). And there was the famous Drivers Music Store, where I spent many hours browsing through the week’s top songs. My first 45 record was purchased there (Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline). This has conjured up too many memories and stories to mention here and I still sing the BC Clark jingle at Christmastime each year. Thank you for your thorough research of OKC history. It is applauded and greatly appreciated..

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