The day was Friday, September 3, 2010 and I would imagine for some Tulsans, it was much like September 11th, in that they will always remember where they were when they heard the news…
Me – I was driving around a little before 2pm, trying to waste a little bit of time before I had to pick my son and niece up from school. I was going north on Sheridan and around 52nd I saw a bunch of smoke in the air. Having nothing to do for about 30 minutes and the girls being asleep in the back, I started driving towards it to see if I could find it. I LOOKED like it was coming from around 45th, where my mom lives. I got to her street and realized it was a little further, maybe around Home Depot on 41st. I got there and thought, nope. But it REALLY looks like it might be coming from a few blocks north of that where Harley and I had seen a fire about a month before. I even said out loud to myself, “No way!” When I got there (which is around 37th) I realized I was wrong and that it was just a little further. It HAD to be because the smoke was getting darker and thicker. Well… needless to say I kept chasing it and finally gave up when I’d been driving for a while and finally got to 21st (way too much traffic that day!) only to realize that I couldn’t see the smoke enough anymore to figure out where it was coming from. So I pulled in by Casa Bonita (when I turned the car around I could actually SMELL it a little) and headed back towards my son’s school. Not even a mile down the road I heard the dj on The Edge say, “Well, I just got some sad news… Someone just called in and told me the Admiral Twin is on fire.” NO WAY!!! So not only is it GONE now but THAT’S the smoke I was seeing- starting from 6 miles away from the original site!
I was instantly filled with sadness, as I knew that Tulsa had just lost one of the last remaining landmarks we had (with Bell’s being gone, the Camelot being torn down, etc.) I remember going there TONS when I was younger and playing with a zillion other kids by the wall that was so colorfully painted. Picnics there while the parents were watching a movie, and running around, swatting moquitos off of me when the sun started going down. And sitting in the car freezing my butt off some nights after the sun went down (plus a LOT more memories!)
As soon as I got home I had to call my husband to tell him what happened. I also asked him if he could come home early because I wanted to get some shots of what remained. Luckily he was able to come home a little later and I zipped out the door.
There were quite a few people there, as I had expected. Cars were parked along the fence outside and everyone gathered as close as they could to the main entrance. We watched. We wondered. We mourned. And we hoped… Hoped that it wouldn’t be gone forever and that somehow we could DO something about it. I met another local photographer named Pamela and a woman named Carol, both who were just as passionate about getting the word out there as I was. We wanted as much publicity as possible, in hopes that we wouldn’t lose this landmark for good, like the others. We talked amongst ourselves and talked to Blake (the co-owner). We asked questions and made suggestions. We noticed that some of the other employees had brought out the last t-shirts that remained in the concession stand, which were to hopefully sell out the following weekend (it was to be the last of the season.) Myself, along with Pamela and Carol, grabbed the employees and shirts and headed out to the road, where hundreds of people were still driving by to catch their last glimpse. We waved the shirts and yelled, “T-shirts, $10.00! Help us raise money to rebuild the Admiral Twin!” and believe it or not… we sold more than 60 shirts that evening. They were all gone- every one. (And yes, I definitely got myself one!)
After the shirts were gone and the sun had set completely, we made sure we all had each other’s contact info and went home to feed our families. It was a VERY humbling experience and one that I will never forget.
With all my heart, I hope that the city of Tulsa gets together to help rebuild such a special place.
Here’s my attempt at photojournalism, I suppose… :-P
Upon arrival, the place was so sad- missing the huge screens that once towered in the sky.
Nearly every piece was affected.
Blake, writing his contact info for me. (It’s blurred, don’t worry!)
An employee stands in the entrance, in disbelief.
The fire engine makes sure no more fire remains at all, before leaving.
Even the ticket booths suffered from the nearby blaze.
One of countless people taking photos of everything.
One of many interviews Blake did, I’m sure.
So many people came, it was incredible. Even after taking their photos, they couldn’t bring themselves to leave for a while.
This is my piece (along with some from the ceiling in the ticket booth area). I saw it sitting there lonely, as the sun started to set, and I had to photograph it before picking it up.
An employee and Carol (on the right) selling shirts to those driving by.
I believe this was Channel 6.
Be sure to check out their facebook page and if you want to donate, please send any amount to:
ATTN: Admiral Twin Drive-In at Security Bank
PO BOX 471316
Tulsa, OK 74147
EDIT 10-1-2010: There is an official website for saving the Admiral Twin now so please check it out and donate it you can! (And buy a shirt!)
NOTE: ALL IMAGES BELONG TO SHANNON HALL AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE WITHOUT SPECIFIC WRITTEN PERMISSION.