By Ronald Ahrens
Get ready for a series of posts on Our Grandfathers’ Grain Elevators.
On April 15, I set out on a road trip to the Texas Panhandle and Oklahoma to see elevators built there between 1939 and the mid-1950s by Tillotson Construction Co.
This was a long-desired destination, as my grandfather, Reginald Tillotson, and his brother Joe Tillotson (until their partnership dissolved), built at least 10 reinforced-concrete elevators in the Panhandle and closer to 20 in Oklahoma.
The company’s first concrete elevator, dating to 1939, was built in Goltry, Okla., and I was able to visit it.
So as I say, get ready.
I have 410 photos on one memory card and haven’t even counted those on the other card that’s still in the camera.
I saw a nice range of elevators including a surprise Mayer-Osborn one in Follett, Texas–built by my partner Kristen Osborn Cart’s grandfather after he worked for my grandfather.
I got inside some elevators, met interesting people whom you will also meet, and even have a few trip notes to share.
For example, avoid the Hereford Inn, in Hereford, Texas. Yes, it’s right across the street from the Tillotson elevator. No, you shouldn’t stay there. The owners have done nothing to update the rooms; flimsy mattress, wilted pillow, skimpy towel. And it sounded like the trains were coming through the room. At least there was hot water.
For the same $60 price, I stayed the next night at the Nursanickel Motel in Spearman, Texas. That place was quite nice and cast its shadow on the dump in Hereford.
And here’s a culinary tip: Smrcka’s Dairy Shack, in Medford, Oklahoma, serves a fantastic Czech sausage sandwich with sauerkraut. And the fries are incredible.
With limeade, it came to $8.38.
If you have the same counter-attendant that I had, don’t try to make small talk because she’s super-crabby.
So stay with us for our Texas-Oklahoma series over the next few weeks.