Category Archives: Travel

The Book Whisperer Looks at Lost Restaurants of Tulsa


Photographer and writer Rhys Martin published Lost Restaurants of Tulsa. The book provides stories and photographs of restaurants “from the Great Depression to the days of ‘Liquor by the Wink’ and the Oil Bust of the 1980s.”

After traveling through Southeast Asia and Europe, Martin returned to Tulsa, taking a new look at Oklahoma. With a renewed interest in his home state, Martin examined Route 66 and Tulsa. Learn more about his photography at his site: There, visitors can purchase photographs from Martin’s travels, including a large number of photographs of Tulsa locations.

Martin also maintains a Facebook page on the Lost Restaurants of Tulsa:

While Martin covers many of the lost restaurants of Tulsa, he could not capture all in one book. He laments that there are many more he could not include in Lost Restaurants of Tulsa: Borden’s Cafeteria, Sleepy Hollow, Martin’s BBQ, and Cardo’s Cadillac.

Martin gives his readers history to go along with the stories of those restaurants now lost in time. He explains “the booming community [Tulsa] was not immune to the Great Depression; however, the area wasn’t as hard-hit as the rest of the Midwest.”

The tremendous wealth brought by the oil industry brought many people to Tulsa. With the growing population and the number of people from a wide variety of places, the options in food grew. In addition, it became easier to ship more varieties of fruits and vegetables into the area.

Lost Restaurants of Tulsa is full of vintage photographs of the restaurants which range from mom and pop cafes to fine dining establishments. As one who arrived in Oklahoma as an adult, I don’t look upon these lost restaurants with the same fondness as someone who grew up in OK and watched the places disappear. Lost Restaurants of Tulsa does interest me in terms of what has been in Tulsa.

Readers will enjoy the history and photographs in Lost Restaurants of Tulsa.





The Book Whisperer Reviews Fly Girls


Keith O’Brien has received high praise for Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied all Odds and Made Aviation History. O’Brien conducted meticulous research into the five women: “Florence Klingensmith, a high‑school dropout who worked for a dry cleaner in Fargo, North Dakota; Ruth Elder, an Alabama divorcee; Amelia Earhart, the most famous, but not necessarily the most skilled; Ruth Nichols, who chafed at the constraints of her blue‑blood family’s expectations; and Louise Thaden, the mother of two young kids who got her start selling coal in Wichita.”

O’Brien details the difficulties each woman faced, starting with simply learning to fly, then having access to a plane, and finding funding for flights. As readers learn about the five women, they also learn about the fledgling airplane manufacturing business.

O’Brien begins the “Introduction” with “in 1926, there were countless ways to die in an airplane.” Throughout Fly Girls, readers continue to learn about the ways pilots, crew members, and people on the ground died when wings iced over, propellers fell off, or planes lost altitude and crashed into the earth.

By 1926, women had fought for and earned the right to vote, but many avenues were still closed to them. O’Brien describes the ways that “gender roles were shifting, cultural norms were evolving, and the Great Depression had people questioning almost everything in America.”

Florence Klingensmith, Ruth Elder, Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols, and Louise Thaden supported one another as their paths crossed over and over again in flying competitions and in promoting women as pilots. On one occasion, the female pilots all agreed to wait for a part to be flown in for Ameila Earhart so they could all take off together, not taking advantage of Earhart’s problem.

The women faced sabotage of their planes. Before one competition in Cleveland, the female pilots received a telegram with three words on it: “Beware of sabotage.” They found evidence of tampering when one woman discovered “every switch in the cockpit turned on, every throttle moved.” The women then sat up most of the night with the planes to avert any further damage. Thus, they started the race on only four hours sleep.

Swanee Taylor, announcer at Henderson’s air races, classified the women pilots into six categories: The Dependent Woman; The Athletic Girl; The Flapper; Little Lucy, The Timid Type;  The Talkative Woman, and the Good Egg.

Earhart was giving a talk to young women. She told them “two capital Ts stand in the way of their progress. One is Training – or lack of it. The other Tradition.” Earhart went on to say that “[a woman’s place] is wherever her individual aptitude places her. Or it should be anyway. And the work of married men and women should be split. She should taste the grind of earning a living – and he should learn the stupidity of housework.”

All of the women featured in Fly Girls are fascinating, but I was most captivated with Louise McPhetridge Thaden who came originally from Bentonville, AR, my home state. She has a page in The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture:


Mary Frances Files Silitch, my cousin, also a pilot and from Arkansas, has a page in The Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture:  Mary Silitch was the first woman editor-in-chief of a national aviation magazine. October 28, 2010, Silitch was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame. Silitch’s accomplishments follow on the heels of the five women featured in Fly Girls, showing that women have not slowed down in their pursuit of their goals.

Mary Frances

Book reviewers have called Fly Girls “exhilarating” and “riveting.” Those terms are both relevant in describing a book that chronicles the difficulties those pioneering female pilots faced and the obstacles they overcame in the ever-present face of danger and criticism.

Keith O’Brien is a regular contributor to NPR. He also writes for The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Slate, and Politico. O’Brien has also published a young readers’ edition of Fly Girls which should encourage young girls today to dream, set goals, and accomplish those dreams and goals.

At O’Brien’s site,, readers will discover additional material about Fly Girls along with a link a list of discussion questions found on Reading Group Choices.



The Book Whisperer Reviews Nomadland



Have you ever read a book that compelled you to continue reading even as you were horrified by the content? That’s Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-first Century by Jessica Bruder. Bruder has interviewed people, mostly senior citizens, across the US. The people in the book form “a new low-cost labor pool: transient older Americans. With social security coming up short, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands, forming a growing community of migrant laborers dubbed Workampers.”

Many of the people find themselves in dire circumstances through no fault of their own. They simply do not have enough money to live, especially in areas where rents are very high.  People from many different professions and work histories find themselves with too little on which to live. As a result, they are making do by living in tiny RVs, always purchased second or third-hand and generally still in need of some repair and often on the verge of breaking down or needing tires replaced.

Bruder interviewed Silvianne who lives in a 1990 Ford E350 Econoline Super Club Wagon, formerly “a transit van for the elderly and a work vehicle for convict labor crews before she bought it off Craigslist, complete with leaky head gaskets, bad brakes, cracking power steering hoses, worn-out tires, and a starter that made ominous grinding sounds.” Silvianne calls the vehicle Queen Maria Esmeralda. Read her blog: There, you will find her story and her “Vandweller Anthem.” See Silvianne’s home below.


An entire subculture has grown up around the Workampers, wur-kam-pers. Workamper News,, calls itself “the #1 Resource for Workamping & Jobs for RVers.” The newsletter further defines a Workamper in the following: “If you work in exchange for something of value and sleep in a RV at night, you are indeed [a Workamper]. From coast to coast, there are many positions available for Workampers—or those still dreaming of an RV lifestyle—to work and play on the road. Let us put you in touch with the perfect opportunity to meet your Workamping needs.”

The newsletter includes these topics: destinations, featured stories, finding work, outside the box jobs, real life, Workamping, and Young Workampers. Readers will discover a number of tutorials such as how to set up a campsite quickly a well as explanations of what Workampers do.

That piece above makes the Workampers’ life sound inviting. No doubt, for many, the lifestyle is inviting. Americans have long been in love with the idea of the open road and the opportunities to travel that road unrestricted. Workamper News does provide a wealth of information for Workampers.

Workamping,, provides free listings of jobs. It also includes information such as staying at a campground free of charge in exchange for ten to twenty or more hours of work. Fellow Workampers add their own reviews of campsites and jobs, certainly helpful information. Here is a link to a video on how to set up an RV campsite:

The sites indicated above would lead the casual reader to think the Workampers’ lifestyle is one of adventure and fun. Bruder paints a different picture through the many people she interviews in Nomadland. Most of the time, those Bruder interviewed are living in the brink of exhaustion and fear of another breakdown—of their campers or themselves through ill health.

The part-time jobs are difficult. Amazon warns would-be Workampers “that they should be ready to lift up to fifty pounds at a time, in an environment where the temperature may sometimes exceed 90 degrees.” Amazon’s company slogan is “Work hard. Have fun. Mae history.” Working ten-hour shifts with two fifteen-minute breaks and a thirty-minute lunch break is hard work for those supposed to be enjoying retirement.

Bruder does explain that Workampers help one another. Linda May, a Workamper with whom Bruder spent quite a bit of time, was ill with bronchitis. She was unable to work or even to cook for herself. Fellow Workampers took food to help Linda. Bruder recounts other such instances when a Workamper needed help because of illness or injury. Other Workampers showed up to lend a hand. That sense of community is certainly uplifting, especially in today’s political climate.

Jessica Bruder ends her book with “Acknowledgments” in which she says, “You meet a lot of people in three years and 15,000 miles. This book exists due to their kindness.”

Workampers are new in the sense of living in the tiny RVs and involving both men and women. In the 1900s, men looking for work hitched rides on trains seeking work wherever they could find it. They often shared camps and whatever food they had. Today’s nomads have certain advantages over those earlier traveling workers, but they still exist on the periphery and often their existence is perilously in danger of collapse.

Learn more about Jessica Bruder and her work:


The Book Whisperer Reviews a Winner


Some books are hard to read. They are not difficult to read because of the vocabulary or syntax, but because of the subject matter. Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde is one of those books I have found hard to read and hard to stop reading. It was nominated for the Books Sandwiched In book review series for the fall of 2017, but it was tabled at the nomination meeting because copies of the book were not readily available from the library for members of the committee or the reading public at large.

Take Me With You has been re-nominated for consideration for the spring 2018 Books Sandwiched In series at the Central Library since copies are now available. I had the book on my reserve list and it arrived at my library just before the spring nomination meeting.

August Schroeder, a high school science teacher in San Diego, takes his dog Woody on a long summer trip in an RV, planning to go to Yellowstone. Unfortunately, his RV breaks down before August gets out of California. Wes is the tow truck driver and mechanic who takes August and his RV in for repairs. August has budgeted carefully for his trip and has not counted on the extra cost for repairs, especially so early in the journey.

The repairs take several days, so August remains on the grounds living in the RV while waiting or Wes to complete the work. Wes has two sons, Seth, 12, and Henry, 7. The boys’ mother has left some time ago. Wes makes several abortive attempts to ask August something important, but keeps backing away. Finally, August tells Wes to spit it out and let the chips fall where they may. August has told Wes that the trip to Yellowstone is important to him, but that he will not be able to make the trip since the repairs will use up money earmarked for the trip.

Wes offers to complete the repairs free including any parts if August will take Seth and Henry on the trip with him. Finally, Wes explains that he will be spending three months in jail and that he has no one to take care of the boys. If August will take them on the trip, Wes can complete his time and be ready to take the boys back in September before school resumes. Wes will go to jail for drunk driving, not his first offence or his first jail stay. Previously, the boys have stayed with their aunt who tells Wes she will not keep the boys again, thinking he will stay sober. Twice, the boys have gone to foster care. The last time, Henry returned home mute although Wes suspects Henry whispers to Seth.

At first, August is reluctant to take on two young boys, but the more he thinks about the situation, the more he decides that he can care for the boys for the summer. The story becomes more complicated when readers learn that August is going to Yellowstone to spread some of his son Philip’s ashes there. Philip, 19, died two years ago when he was riding to the grocery store with his mother and their car was broadsided by a driver who ran a red light.

Maggie, August’s now ex-wife, had been drinking when the accident occurred, but she was not over the legal limit, and she was not at fault in the accident. Philip’s death causes very different reactions in his parents. His mother continues to drink while August stops drinking and begins attending AA meetings.

Seth overcompensates for his father’s alcoholism and lack of parenting by trying to be overly responsible, especially in caring for Henry. Children of alcoholic parents often become very responsible or very irresponsible. Perhaps because Seth knows Henry needs some stability, Seth becomes responsible, even when he was only seven and Henry was two.

Seth discovers that August attends AA meetings because August has planned for the meetings even before he left San Diego. Seth then asks to attend a meeting with August. August finds an open meeting so that Seth can attend to learn about alcoholism; that’s when Seth starts planning an intervention to hold with Wes upon their return at the end of the summer.

Seth and Henry are good companions; they do everything they can to make August glad he has taken them along. The boys have never been more than fifty miles from their own home, so they are intrigued by the travels. August is a good host and the four of them, August, Woody, Seth, and Henry, gradually become more comfortable with one another. Of course, Woody cheerfully accepts the children as his new playmates from the start.

The trip certainly becomes important to all. August feels Wes has betrayed him because August learns the jail sentence will not end in September in time for the boys to start school. It will end in December, after Christmas. Wes has lied about the number of times he has been jailed as well. These lies leave August feeling a bit bewildered. By now, he cares deeply for Seth and Henry and does not want to see them go into foster care again. The three agree that the boys will live with August go to school in San Diego until their father’s release at the end of December.

Shortly before the trip ends, however, Wes delivers important news: he will be released in September after all and will wear an ankle bracelet restricting him to his property until the end of December. The boys and August are crushed. August knows he can do nothing more than leave the boys with their father despite also knowing Wes will resume drinking as soon as he can and by whatever method he can.

Take Me With You is a moving story. Sadly, August cannot take Wes’ children home to San Diego. Although they promise to keep in touch, the calls are infrequent and then almost stop until Seth is in college and Henry is fifteen. In the eight years between the lifetime trip to Yellowstone and other parks, Wes has continued to drink, frequently staying out all night as he used to do. August has also undergone serious changes; he has developed distal muscular dystrophy which causes him to tire easily. In addition, he has trouble walking and has begun using two canes, knowing the disease will progress into more serious disabilities over time.

This time, Seth and Henry rescue August and Woody, taking them on a summer trip in the old RV. The boys become August’s caretakers, helping him in and out of the RV and making sure he is comfortable as they revisit some parks from their previous trip. What August does not know is that the boys have a big surprise planned for the end of the trip.

Take Me With You is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story. Kirkus Reviews calls Take Me With You “a story about good people doing their best to survive, combined with a message that will cause readers to close the book feeling a bit more hopeful about humanity.”

Catherine Ryan Hyde has written over thirty books. She is an enthusiastic hiker which explains August’s passion for hiking, a love which he passes along to Seth and Henry as they trek through national parks. August does not realize that he is also creating a lifelong desire in Seth to climb mountains. Seth continues the training he begins on the trip with August and learns all he can about being a mountain climber, much to August’s consternation when they take the second trip together eight years later.

Visit Catherine Ryan Hyde’s Web site:

She also writes a blog at