Much of my mid-to-late adolescence was frittered away cruising with my buddies in Tulsa’s Southside, an area which during my extended abscence came to be known as “Midtown”, at least by Google Maps and real estate agents. (When my family moved to Tulsa in 1966, 51st Street was a two lane strip through the woods on the edge of town; remember Pickles? The Edison school district will ever be “the Southside”, at least in my memory.)

Bell’s Amusement Park was a frequent hangout for our group of dateless miscreants, mainly because admission was free and gasoline had become expensive. One pastime was to try to cheat the Ske-Ball machine out of tickets that could only be redeemed for cheap trinkets. Once we were caught red-handed by a Bell’s goon, our now gone-but-not-forgotten classmate Phil Hensley: “Your tickets are no good,” he informed us with finality.

Rats! Busted by The Man! (Although I’m fairly certain the statute of limitations has run on our criminal enterprise, I shall not name my co-conspirators, even though two of them have gone ahead of us to a reward that even Bob Bell couldn’t offer. Ava shalom.)

Bell’s occupied real estate on Tulsa’s Fairgounds next to the IPE Building. (The last International Petroleum Exposition was held there in 1973, IIRC. After that, Tulsa lost credible claim to the title “Oil Capitol of the World”, although front-bumper license plates paraded the boast for years after. Bell’s is history, too.)

Down the street the iconic Golden Driller held sentry over the IPE Building’s main entrance, a Tulsa landmark and stoic reminder of Tulsa’s pre-OPEC glory days.

One of our rituals, as we rolled down 21st Street past the light at Pittsburg Ave.: someone in the car would crack wise, “The Golden Driller has no drill,” more a genuflection than a joke.

Forty-five years later, the Tulsa World brings this article, which prompted this reminiscence:

Tulsa County to spend $1 million to enhance Golden Driller at Expo Square

Here’s hoping that long-overdue ‘enhancement’ helps the gender-ambiguous Driller cut a more macho profile, if you catch my drift. Good luck on your transition, old buddy.