Friday, March 2, 2012

Broken Bench Lane - A Dream Street of Tulsa

'Broken Bench Lane, that bright ribbon in a sea of green, was particularly verdant because of the great quantities of Great Heart Discovery grass that grew so thickly in the whole region that the Lane traversed.  The grass was the discovery of Great Heart Harkte who had been an inventive Indian man of several generations earlier.  He had invented a sod buster plough superior to every other one.  He had invented a poke-weed harvester and a coon skinner.  He had grown the first puffed wheat and the first Golden Day sand plums.  And he invented Great Heart Discovery grass that did not thrive well until after Great Heart Harkte himself was dead and buried.  Then it grew richly, with every primordial root of it coming out of Harkte's buried heart, and it covered a region of several miles.  Wherever it grew, there was inventiveness supreme; and Broken Bench Lane had the lushest Discovery grass of the whole region.

'Where else but on the lane was there such a merry, early morning chirping going on at every hour of the day and night?  The barkers and cardinals and meadow larks all seemed to sing together:

'"Lookie, lookie, lookie!  Invent now!  Be a millionaire by noon!"

'Broken Bench Lane was the gaudiest-appearing of all those little streets and ways that tumbled and twisted down the green slopes all the way from Standpipe Hill to the south edge of town till they disappeared in the verdant haze beyond which, in the misty distance, rose Beautiful Downtown Broken Arrow.  There were not streets and arteries like these everywhere, not like this bunch:  Jenks Road, Clown Alley, Harrow Street, Five Shill Road, Lollywaggers' Left-Hand Lane, Speckled Fish Road, Leptophlebo Street, Trotting Snake road, Broken Bench Lane!  And the brightest jewel of them all was Broken Bench...

'These streets are not necessarily located in the order here given.  There are many other streets, better kept and broader, that intrude between these.  Half of these arteries are not even proper streets in the sense of accepting vehicular traffic; they are mere pedestrian walks or paths or alleys. (Broken Bench was in between the categories in that it accepted vehicles, but for only one hour a day.)

'Quentan Whitebird, in his monumental work Forgotten Lanes and Byways of Tulsa, refers to this cluster of little streets (plus four others, and with Lollygaggers' unaccountably left out) as "dream streets".  Well, there is a green haze over all of them that is very like a summer afternoon sleep.  Even in the brightness and hustle of some of them, there is always this noddiness or nappiness.  And there is the frightening snapping-out of it also, and the raffish terror at realizing that one hasn't quite snapped out of the spell after all...

'Broken Branch was the brightest and most hustling of all those little roads.  What factories and shops there were there!  What venture-houses!  What money coining enterprises!  What dreams that had taken flesh in solid crab-orchard stone with tomorrow-glass facades!  There were bustling manufactories and tall financial empires and inventories (well, what do you call the studios where inventors work?).  There was all the flowing lifeblood of newness.  The Lane was so crammed with newness that those who visited it only once a day were always dumbfounded by the changes in it.  Here were the waves of the future sold by the gallon or barrel or oceanful.'

-R. A. Lafferty, 'The Funny Face Murders' (1980)

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'It was all strong talk with the horns and hooves still on it.'
(R. A. Lafferty, The Devil is Dead)