by Guest Blogger, Steve Lackmeyer, Reporter/Columnist: The Daily Oklahoman
Web sites: OKCCentral and http://www.okchistory.com/
For my first 11 years of existence, I lived in Hicksville, New York, a hometown I shared with Billy Joel. The rest of my life I’ve been a proud Oklahoma City resident.
So are my Gen X memories those of a kid whose first neighborhood resembled the one in the show “The Wonder Years”? Or are my memories more in line with Jennifer? That’s my first question as I wade into this Generation X discussion. The test, actually, is an easy one: where do my fondest memories reside? And yes, they reside right here.
Never Gave Up On OKC
Like Jennifer, I never gave up on Oklahoma City even when it was very tempted to do so. My family moved back to New York in 1989, but I stayed. During a brief summer back in New York that year, I couldn’t relate to it at all. I missed browsing art I couldn’t afford at the Festival of the Arts. I missed catching performances by Kenny Loggins, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Chicago and the Beach Boys at the Zoo Amphitheater (is it just my faulty memory or was there a time when the Beach Boys came every year?). I missed Sammy’s Pizza (and still do), Braum’s and Johnnie’s. I missed special evenings at Papa Dio’s.
Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute
And I really missed Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute. Molly Murphy’s was one of those places that made Oklahoma City special and I’m bewildered as to why we can’t have it back. The crazy wait staff in their costumes, the building that followed no rules, the dancing, the tribute to “safe” debauchery – the entire operation served as a still family-friendly bit of rebellion against the idea that you couldn’t have fun in Oklahoma City.
Generation X – The Most Responsible Generation
As I’ve gotten older, I look back and realize that despite some bad early Gen X buzz (I worked four jobs in college and was never a slacker), we’re the most responsible and level-headed generation out there. Let’s face it – we’re sandwiched between very spoiled Baby Boomers used to having everything be about them and bewildered Millennials with a similar sense of self-grandeur who are about to discover they’re not guaranteed an easy street to wealth and happiness.
Am I rambling here? Stay with me – I’m actually paid to do this writing thing and I’m about to amaze at least myself by using Molly Murphy’s as a metaphor for the delicate balancing act being performed by our generation.
We miss Molly Murphy’s because it is truly a part of our generational DNA. A trip down Meridian Avenue was akin to showing we could have fun, get a bit wild, but still maintain our dignity. It was OK to dance to around a Jaguar converted into a salad bar and we knew Groucho’s insults weren’t really going to hurt that much. Molly Murphy’s represented our own small attempt at redefining who we were. We wanted to be more cosmopolitan, more sophisticated, and heck yeah, more fun.
And we knew we’d have to work at it to get things done. We did volunteer stints and shifted our “big city weekends” from West End to Bricktown as we saw opportunities to make our dreams come true.
We’re responsible. It’s said, I think correctly, that in response to the selfish and dysfunctional examples set by our Baby Boom parents that we’re much more focused on balancing work, family and community service.
Nobody Could Ever Question a Baby Boomer
We’re still responsibly rebellious. The Baby Boomers always had that notion that they were right no matter what, that their parents were idiots, and later that we were slackers for not following them in lockstep. Nobody could ever question a Baby Boomer – they just knew everything, and everything had to be about them. And forgive me for saying so, despite all that Woodstock propaganda, they had no problem selling out and leading us to the financial chaos we face today.
We’re not so eager to sell out. We’re seeking to have less clutter in our lives, we care what happens in our hometown, and we’re eager to challenge conventional wisdom even if it involves some discomfort. We’re more likely to care about what’s happening in Capitol Hill, Paseo, the Plaza District and Deep Deuce even if we happen to live at NW 164 and Pennsylvania.
Gen X Taking Their Rightful Place: Will Boomers Let Go?
And so it is that we are slowly but steadily trying to take our rightful place leading our community. For so long Baby Boomers were so self-absorbed that they were quite happy letting their parents – “The Greatest Generation” – continue to lead long past their expiration date. We saw this right here in Oklahoma City, where outdated ideas were implemented without pause when it came to razing downtown and starting the 1980s with a rebuilding plan drawn up when LBJ was still president.
The Baby Boomers eventually took over – a bit late – and because they were so far behind they were inspired to accomplish great things in 1990s. For Oklahoma City this meant MAPS, a revamped zoo, a rebuilt airport, and a modernized City Hall.
And Generation X has applauded these accomplishments, rightfully so. But with Generation X now ready to assume leadership, will the Baby Boomers let go? We know they won’t change their ways now.
So let them have their homogenized TGIFs and Chili’s – we’re ready to redefine our city, make our own plans a reality, and yes, dance around that crazy salad bar as “Oh What a Night …” plays from our Ipods.
Do you remember Molly Murphy’s House of Fine Repute?
Steve Lackmeyer’s focus is reporting on downtown development in Oklahoma City. He is also an author, having written “Bricktown,” “OKC Second Time Around” and an upcoming book about the Skirvin Hotel. The last two were co-authored by long time friend and former co-worker Jack Money. Lackmeyer is married; a father of two boys, 4 and 7, and the owner of a crazy dog.