Oh, the memories.
Akers Park is bounded by Reno Avenue on the north, Grand Boulevard on the east, SE 15th on the south, and Eastern Avenue on the west. I have no idea where the name came from. Fifty-five years ago, part of this was a new housing area, and folks called it Fairview because an ancient Baptist Church on the southern edge bore that name (not the church pictured here, which is almost as old). My uncle bought one of those houses and we used to visit from time to time. I’ll never forget they had a serious infestation of leeches in the yards all over this area; at night those critters crawled all over the yards. You had to watch your step. In more recent times, the place simply suffered neglect and a lower economic class took over. OKC Housing Authority has bulldozed some of these older homes and built their cookie-cutter stuff using corrupt contractors, so the old stuff is still in better shape sometimes.
It’s part of the Crooked Oak School District, the Ruf-nex. Not so long ago the district was hammered by state auditors for outlandish fraud and waste. The district management is uppity and rich, but are just as low-class as the folks who live here.
The school district has made enemies in other ways. They used state laws to snatch the land out from under a few businesses to expand their campus. They’ve been threatening an ancient grocery store that has long since been occupied by the Old Paris Flea Market (they have a Facebook page, too). It’s run by, and popular with, the same “po’ white trash” in alliance with a lot of Hispanic immigrants. This has been going on for at least the past decade, but too many outsiders with real political pull have an interest in keeping the flea market open.
Oddly enough, Old Paris is home to the primary retail outlet for a pair of rappers, Mike and Bone. It’s a pair of Native American boys who have been recording albums since their youth, and they even got on America’s Got Talent and featured in a few other TV shows. They keep a booth at the flea market and are there quite often, last time I checked.
My brother had a booth out there for awhile, and I helped out a couple of years. I understand those folks; that’s my family background. About the time I was born, my Dad didn’t work on the rigs themselves, but drove hotshot parts to the oil fields in New Mexico for awhile. We didn’t even approach middle class income until I was a teenager and we were living in Alaska. So the folks who hide out in Akers Park are a mixture of old rough-neck residents, plus a generous mixture of welfare queens.
So the images include a vacant building site and some houses further east in Del City. It wasn’t a long ride, just enough to keep my right knee on track for recovery.