Judge Lisa Tipping Davis
Author Will Durant, who would later go on to write the multi-volume series with his wife Ariel “The Story Of Civilization,” covered the Democratic Party National Convention in 1928 for the New York World. He wrote of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was recovering from the attack of polio that he had previously suffered at that time but still managed to make a moving speech on behalf of the eventual Democratic presidential nominee New York Governor Al Smith, and described the future president as “A figure tall and proud even in suffering; a face of classic profile, pale with years of struggle against paralysis ….A man softened and cleansed and illumined with pain.” And visitors in recent months to the courtroom of Oklahoma County Juvenile Judge Lisa Tipping Davis , who succumbed to a fatal disease on April 14, 2019, saw a somewhat similar grace and courage in that she performed her judicial duties in a professional and thorough manner that did not reveal that she was mortally ill or was suffering any degree of discomfort or pain. Many courtroom observers who had known that she had previously been ill and treated at the M D Anderson Hospital in Houston Texas, assumed from her positive demeanor and the cheerful attitude that she displayed from the bench that she had fully recovered. Davis had formerly served as general counsel to then Governor Brad Henry, and he had appointed her to a vacant judicial post in Oklahoma County towards the end of his gubernatorial term. And while she served in that role with distinction when she was assigned to a civil docket there, it seemed that she achieved her greatest role when she took over the duties of a juvenile court judge in the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center. Davis, who had two daughters, became a zealous advocate on behalf of the minor children, most of whom who had been placed in that system due to their parent’s failure to adequately care for them, whose cases she was presiding over. And while many of them remained separated from their families due to their parents inability to correct the behavior that had resulted in their initial removal, Davis developed a respect for those parents who did manage to regain custody of their children, and with characteristic energy she oversaw the creation of an annual event held at the Juvenile Justice Center that celebrated them and their success that takes place every summer. She also oversaw the creation of many other programs that assisted children and families. The Department of Human Services social workers who were part of the cases that she heard developed a fondness for her that was said to have been based on her knowledge of the facts of each individual proceeding, as well as the polite and professional manner in which Judge Davis dealt with them personally. And while her recent memorial service was filled with many political dignitaries, it would seem that her most lasting memorial will be the children and adults whose lives she touched in a beneficial manner at the Oklahoma County Juvenile Justice Center.
OKC Attorney Irven Box displays with Lisa Lampton Allen the art created by his family.
In a recently renovated structure located on 911 West Britton Road in the Britton District in Oklahoma City is housed the Hideout Art Gallery, and the operator of that recently opened undertaking, Lisa Lampton Allen, is introducing patrons to a world of abstract art in which they themselves wield bottles of paint and place them on canvas. While most artists use dainty paintbrushes to create their work, Allen and her students utilize trowels for that purpose, and she recently displayed a container of large trowels that are used by her adult students and a smaller box filled with small ones that are utilized by children who make their way to her gallery and creative process. Allen’s own intriguing creations on canvas are on the walls of the gallery and they include bright swirls of colors as well as her unique signature in gold paint in the lower right hand corner of each work. Some of those works have made their way to the homes of those who admire her work and have purchased them either from the gallery or through social media. In a side wall in the gallery are found several more conventional paintings, including one of a seemingly morose Ernest Hemingway, and they were apparently created by her in her early youth before she developed her current abstract style.
Allen offers individual private lessons, group classes, private parties, and speaks of the freedom and sense of creativity that many of her students experience under her tutelage as they blend diverse colors together. Her recent patrons included Oklahoma City attorney Irven Box and his wife and child, and the individuals canvasses that they created, which were recently present at the gallery waiting to be delivered, reflected an intriguing artistic view. Like many talented artists, Allen has a contagious enthusiasm which has on occasion resulted in visitors to her place suddenly donning smocks and bending over canvasses and swirling colors together under her inspiring and supportive direction. She also shares with many others who have a compelling artistic vision the experience of personal tragedy and loss, and when she refers to the freedom that many of her patrons experience as they paint she may be analogizing the freedom that she may personally feel from grief and sorrow as she spreads paints on blank canvasses. And the artist is a woman of compassion who interrupts one of her sessions to patiently assist a young man who lives in the Britton District who suffers from mental illness who uses her wifi capability to access the internet.
On a table at the Hideout Gallery is an apparently self- published pictorial volume titled “The History of Britton And Fond Memories, 1889 to 1994” that was authored by a long time resident of that community who came of age there. As it’s title suggests, the work details with affection and nostalgia the community of Britton and the often colorful characters who lived and worked there. The author laments the gradual closure of many of the businesses that were located on Britton Road decades ago, and features black and white photos of many of the leaders who were found there. It now appears that the Britton District is in the process of being revitalized, with bright colors gleaming in the afternoon sun in formerly moribund structures and workmen brandishing construction tools as neighboring buildings. And when a history of the rebirth of the Britton District is compiled at some future date it is probable that Lisa Lampton Allen and the Hideout Art Gallery will feature prominently in it.
Democratic New York City legislator George Washington Plunkitt was a proud member of Tammany Hall in the Nineteenth Century and is perhaps best known today for his assertion that he was a practitioner of what he termed “honest graft.” That type of graft, Plunkitt explained, entailed his purchase of land that he knew would soon be wanted for a public project, and then sell it to the state or city at an inflated price. “I saw my opportunities and took ‘em,” the lawmaker famously said.
And a form of honest graft may have recently been seen in Oklahoma in the terms of a settlement the state recently reached in the opioid lawsuit against Purdue Pharma and several other drug producers that will entail a large payment to a politically powerful former public official. That legal action was initiated by Republican Attorney General Mike Hunter, and as documented in an article by Paul Monies and Trevor Brown of “Oklahoma Watch,” an nonprofit journalistic entity, one of the parties that Hunter contracted with to provide legal representation to the state, Glen Coffee and Associates, will receive legal fees as part of that settlement in the amount of $5.6. million. Coffee was formerly a Repubilican member of the Oklahoma State Senate, and attained the post of Senate Pro Tem in that body. He was also an official in the Fallin Administration and Hunter was appointed to his position by then Governor Fallin. His firm provided legal advice to Hunter during his 2018 campaign for office, and is said to specialize in campaign finance law. Ironically enough, while Coffee served in the legislature, he was an advocate for a form of tort reform favored by the GOP that would have placed limits on the amount that lawyers could receive in contingency fees of the type that his firm will soon be receiving. When proposed legislation that he had sponsored failed in 2005, Coffee publicly blamed the Democrats and said that there was a danger that businesses would leave the state due to its “legal climate.”
The reporters of Oklahoma Watch reviewed the filing in the lawsuit that was filed In Cleveland County and has two other firms, the Texas based Nix Patterson and Whitten Burrage of Oklahoma City, that will receive approximately 90 % of the $270 million settlement, and concluded that very few pleadings were filed by the Coffee firm. While the attorney general’s office spokesperson is quoted as saying “The teams have worked indivisibly and in tandem throughout the pendency of this case. Work is assigned based on a variety of factors, including individual experience, knowledge, availability, and expertise,” it is reported that he refused to answer questions about the exact work done by Coffee and his firm in the lawsuit.
“Its Our Time To Eat,” is a work by journalist Michella Wong that took it’s title from a statement made by a government minister in Kenya whose party had formerly been in opposition as a way of justifying how he and his colleagues were shamelessly enriching themselves at the public trough in that East African nation. And it is possible that a somewhat similar sentiment ha made its way into the Republican Party of Oklahoma.
Renovated Ritz Theater exterior in Britton District.
In recent years, as rebirth and revitalization have made their way to formerly moribund neighborhoods in the Oklahoma City area , some observers have claimed that they are several indicators of such pending revitalization, that include fresh paint in place on buildings and bright murals appearing on the sides of structures as well as places that offer the work of local artists . And using that criterion, it would seem that the Britton neighborhood that is situated on Britton Road between Western Avenue and Shartel Street is destined for a renaissance of that type. That area formerly constituted the downtown area of the community of Britton, and was for two decades part of the iconic Route 66 that went from Chicago, Illinois to the Santa Monica Pier on the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles California.( It is noteworthy that the Ferris Wheel that was situated on that pier is now located on the south side of the Oklahoma River in the Wheeler neighborhood of Oklahoma City.) Britton was, in the immediate post war era, home to flourishing businesses and prosperous residents. Two theaters there showed patrons movies and the Interurban Trolley system connected it with downtown Oklahoma City. The town was officially incorporated into Oklahoma City after a narrow majority of its citizens voted to do so in 1950. But In the 1960’s it fell into a gradual decline that transformed its buildings into dormant structures that featured windows nailed shut and paint peeling off their facades, despite the fact that Britton Road continued to be a major thoroughfare that commuters from the Village and north Oklahoma City often took to work. But in 2018, a group of farsighted investors purchased the Owl Court Motel, which had been slated for demolition, and began to renovate it. That structure had been in place when Route 66 made its way through Britton Road, and is referenced in a variety of books and articles about that historic roadway. More recently, the structure that had formerly been the Ritz Theater was purchased by a group known as the Ritz Group that has embarked on a thorough and painstaking renovation of both it’s exterior and interior. On its exterior red brick wall is a mural that features the “Route 66” logo and an image of Britton Road on it that includes bright pastel colors and its façade has been painted as well . Significantly, a new establishment opened its doors there, the Hideout Art Gallery, that’s presence is marked by vintage neon lighting on it’s exterior sign that may be in homage to Route 66 and its retro legacy. And an entity composed of investors in the properties in the area and other interested parties, the Britton Group, has come into being to oversee its development, which may soon include loft residential units on the second floor of the buildings there.
Lake on the grounds of Meridian Technology Center on Highway 51 in Stilllwater.
Grocer and aspiring restaurateur Risha Misra in his Stillwater store
An Irish poet who spent decades abroad wrote of how he returned to the banks of the Shannon River that flows through that island nation and the joy he felt after “returning after years of exile, years of pain, to see once again the sun shining so brightly on the Shannon River.” And it is possible that residents of Stillwater, and individuals who have studied at the Oklahoma State University there whose fate takes them far from that Payne County community will experience a similar warmth when they return to that locale and again observe the sun shining brightly on the pond that is located adjacent to Highway 51 in front of the Meridian Technology Center there. It is said that the OSU Alumni organization that is based in Dallas, Texas, is one of the largest of those entities, and that some of those who attend gatherings sponsored by that chapter have been known to comment on matters such as the sweet scent emitted by the Magnolia Tree that is found on the campus adjacent to Theta Pond and the stateliness of the Georgian brick buildings that made up most of the structures there until the building of new one in recent years.
Those individuals may also feel a sadness as the dynamic growth of both OSU and Stillwater, which is evident in the construction cranes that are in place and the multi storied parking garages that are being built seem to be gradually eroding much of the small town charm that was found there at one time. But the expansion of OSU and its increasing international presence has also brought many benefits to Stillwater, such as the contingent of young African entrepreneurs who have attended classes on that campus through the Mandela Fellows Program every summer in recent years, and are said to return to their native land with an appreciation of Stillwater and OSU from what they have learned through that undertaking.
And one former OSU student from Nepal, Risha Mishra, who is the owner of the Himalayan Grocery Store that is located on 125 South Main, has developed a thriving business by offering for sale foods and other items from around the world that are purchased by OSU students, staff, faculty and others. His establishment has rows that indicate what nation’s food are offered there, and they include fare from India, Africa, South America, and other distant locales. And the success of his store has prompted him to begin converting an area in it that he plans to transform into a place where food from his native Nepal and India will be served to customers in a restaurant setting. Like many individuals who have bold plans to expand an existing business in a new area, his efforts have encountered a series of difficulties, but the determined Mishra appears undaunted by such setbacks, and he speaks confidently of how he and his wife will soon be serving Indian fare such as Chicken Tikki Masala, Naan bread, and Indian tea to the citizenry of Stillwater on tables and booths that are currently situated on top of one another in a currently unused part of his place.He also envisions selling take out food as well.
He also speaks with enthusiasm about a free seminar that will be offered on the campus by the OSU International Trade Center –Small Business Development Center and U.S. Customs and Border Protection on April 17th that will offer interested parties information on how they can import goods from foreign countries that he hopes will allow him to expand his importing of foods from abroad. And it is possible that future recollections of students of OSU and Stillwater residents will include the tasty Indian food that they got from the Himalayan Grocery Store.
Joshua Harris- Till Who Helped To Cleanse the Oklahoma Democratic Party Headquarters
In Greek Mythology, Hercules had to complete 12 labors at the request of King Eurystheus . One of the more vexing of those tasks was to clean the Augean Stables in one day’s time. Those stables contained a great number of cattle and Hercules completed that labor by rerouting a river that adequately cleansed them. And in recent days the racist, homophobic, and Anti-Semitic graffiti that scarred the Democratic Party Headquarters on Classen Boulevard was washed away not by a re-routed waterway but by a variety of people who were as determined as Hercules to accomplish that task. The diverse group included an Oklahoma City Muslim imam, Christian clergy of several different faiths and other individuals of goodwill who seem to materialize whenever efforts are being made to foster greater understanding among the people of Oklahoma City.
One of those who was involved in the cleansing, a young African American man who is an active member of the Democratic Party of Oklahoma County, Joshua Harris- Till, proudly and publicly displayed the ink that was on his hands as the result of his vigorous labors. And in a metaphoric sense, the eradication of that graffiti continued yesterday in Oklahoma’s capital city with the swearing in of Oklahoma City Councilman James Cooper, the first openly gay person to serve on that body. He and a large of his supporters marched the four blocks from the corner of Park Avenue and Broadway in a joyous manner to the steps of the Oklahoma City Hall to commemorate his electoral victory, where he was embraced by Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt. And those present seemed to sense that they were witnessing a historic moment in Oklahoma City’s history as it is being transformed into to a world class city that values diversity and welcomes diverse groups from around the world to its borders.
Subsequent to his official installation Cooper, who is a public school teacher, had appeared at Oklahoma City’s largest Muslim mosque, and told of his support for the city’s Islamic community and how his door will always be open to them regardless of where they live in the city. And it seemed that some of the ugliness and intolerance that inspired that graffiti became less threatening to those who have had occasion to recently enter the Juvenile Justice Center of Oklahoma County, where a diverse group of judges, social workers, attorneys, and staffers work to improve the conditions of young people of all races who have been deprived of the level of parental support needed for them.
Students of Roman history are familiar with the story of Horatius Cocles, the noble Roman soldier who stood on the Tiber Bridge in Rome and successfully defended it from an army of invading Etruscans. And his bravery inspired a now famous poem entitled “Horatius at the Bridge” by the British historian and poet Thomas Macauley that was memorized by a young Winston Churchill, and in the recent critically acclaimed film “ Darkest Hour” Churchill as the wartime leader of the United Kingdom during the Second World War recites lines from it to the British people. And on a recent rainy Saturday morning an image of what could described as “Lance at the grill” was seen in Quail Plaza Shopping Center on May Avenue off of Hefner Road when Lance Norick of Norick’s True Value Hardware stood steadfast at a grill where he was cooking food for his employees.
Like Horatius, Lance Norick was born into a noble family of civic leaders, both his father and grandfather served as mayor’s of Oklahoma City, and he shows a comparable determination as he diligently operates the store that bears his family’s illustrious name and prepares food for his staff. The younger Norick, who was wearing green cooking gloves, explained that his store sells a variety of such grills, and that his public display of his cooking skills has resulted in other parties purchasing ones that he has in stock, and that the fragrant aroma from his cooking has prompted many passersby to go to the adjacent Camilya’s Mediterranean Café and the Old School Bagel Café to partake of the tasty and flavorful fare that is offered at those establishments. While he frequently cooks bacon, the scent of chicken, beef, and other meats has been noted there on previous occasions, and it has been reported that over the Thanksgiving holiday he cooked a large turkey for his family from that location.
It has been said that the arrival of Spring in Berkeley Square in Mayfair in the West End of London is heralded by a nightingale singing, and one of the harbingers of the arrival of Spring in north Oklahoma City can be seen outside of the Norick True Value Hardware Store when the array of hanging plants and flowers that are on display there begin to bloom in a variety of bright colors. It is possible that that hardware store and the other successful places there are symbolizing the return of prosperity and commerce to the Quail Plaza Shopping Center.