Home of the Gorillas

sign

While I was out Mother Roading today on an errand for the National Historic Route 66 Federation, I took a detour two miles off 66 to Picher, where I had never been before, and where I found this terrific old sign languishing outside a shuttered ice-cream stand called “The Gorilla Cage.”

I did not follow the football to Picher Schools, Home of the Gorillas. In retrospect, I probably should have. Schools in teeny little towns like Picher tend to fall into one of two categories: pole barns, or WPA masterpieces. My Spidey-sense tells me Picher’s schools probably fall into that second category. Guess we’ll have to drive back out there and find out one of these days.

Emily

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12 Responses to Home of the Gorillas

  1. teen says:

    well now King Kong might find peace.

  2. mills says:

    yea,man u shuld have gone out to the school….i went to school there for about 6 years until they shut down athletics….Picher was an awesome school….it was a lot of fun to put on that uniform and have GORILLAS written across ur chest…i miss it alot

  3. Picherite says:

    You definitely should have traveled the 1.5 miles to the school. The original school was a WPA special, but the original building was demolished to make way for the newer corrugated tin model. Our football field is still bordered by the WPA style rock wall though.

    If you ever get back to that area. Spend some time documenting things that strike you as odd, funny, emotional, sad, unforgiving, and mystical. Picher is all of these things and the upcoming federal buyout has triggered the death of this great small town.

  4. Just a quick note to thank all the Mental Floss readers for stopping by. If you’re interested in the environment (which I assume you are, since you got here from a story about Superfund sites), you might want to stick around, as I frequently post about stuff we’re doing for the benefit of the environment … or you might want to visit the blog my husband and I write together, House of the Lifted Lorax, where my husband posts updates on our grid-tied solar panels’ performance, and I post tips about little things you can do to shrink your environmental footprint. (Which reminds me … I need to update that this evening.)

  5. [...] One present-day Love Canal is in Picher, Oklahoma, which was once a boomtown for mining lead and zinc. Pollution has killed off many of the trees, and huge piles of mine debris create a stark, lunar landscape in the Oklahoma countryside. With the entire town on the verge of collapse due to unstable mineshafts, Uncle Sam has offered to buy out the homes of all Picher’s residents. Still, some are staying out of loyalty to their hometown. [Photo courtesy of Red Fork State of Mind.] [...]

  6. Jon Caswell says:

    If this old sign could only talk…… but since it can’t, I will.
    This fast food establishement was called the D & D Drive In and was built / opened around 1970. My mother worked there from the time it opened until about the mid 1980’s. I remember how busy it could get on Friday and Saturday nights especially since it was the turn around spot for those cruising Connell Ave (69 hwy)
    The owners of the D&D had a son about my age and we would often hang out in the back where some mine tailings of large boulders had been dumped. We built a fort and spent a lot of time just hanging out while our parents worked in the Drive-In. The dining room had a juke box which had speakers out side and I can remember so easily hearing the songs of the era which included Fleetwood Mac’s Dreams, Eagles Hotel California,….and everytime I hear Rod Stewarts voice it makes me think of this place. Thank you so much for posting.
    Jon Caswell

  7. Matt Crowe says:

    I also grew up in Picher. The D&D was later named the Gorilla Cage. Having an open campus lunch in Picher, we would frequently drive the 1.5 miles and savor a CHUBBY Cheeseburger. I am sure that I speak for most of my classmates when I say that it was truly an icon for the “Picherite”. If any former or current Picher residents read this, I encourage you to add your own statement. Pretty soon memories are all we will have of our ‘home’. Thank you.

  8. Blake Cardin says:

    I lived in Picher, Ok until 1992…… I remeber playing Dig Dug there…. Hey Matt didn’t I trade you Optimus Prime for a Mark McGuire Jose Canseco card???? HaHa

  9. Tim Reitz says:

    Matt is right, Picher was awesome!!! So many good memories, so many good friends. I feel blessed to have lived and went to school in Picher.

  10. [...] One present-day Love Canal is in Picher, Oklahoma, which was once a boomtown for mining lead and zinc. Pollution has killed off many of the trees, and huge piles of mine debris create a stark, lunar landscape in the Oklahoma countryside. With the entire town on the verge of collapse due to unstable mineshafts, Uncle Sam has offered to buy out the homes of all Picher’s residents. Still, some are staying out of loyalty to their hometown. [Photo courtesy of Red Fork State of Mind.] [...]

  11. Chris Davis says:

    Emily,

    I love this photo of the drive in sign you took in Picher, OK, back in 2006.

    I’d like to ask your permission to use it in a TV show that I’m currently working on. I need some images of Picher… and this one is cool!

    Do you have a high-res. file of this photo and would you be willing to allow me to use it?

    Thanks!

    Chris Davis

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