Dinner options in 1960s Lawton were mostly limited to Bianco's Italian Restaurant on 2nd Street or Wright's Steakhouse on Cache Road. Rose Bianco, herself, was a Lawton institution. She died a few years ago and worked at the family restaurant well into her 90s. When Kaye and I were married at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in 1966, our reception moved from the church to Bianco's and then to the Officers' Club on post. There were failed attempts to preserve Bianco's as an Oklahoma historic landmark. Rose's family was unable (or unwilling) to keep it going. The sign was auctioned off and there is an attempt to sell jars of spaghetti sauce from her recipe online. Here's a photo of the wreckers taking it down.
In the 1930s, the federal WPA financed various construction projects around Lawton including the road to the top of Mt. Scott and a replica of old Jerusalem on land north of Fort Sill's west range in the National Wildlife Refuge. (Good luck trying to get the federal government to finance a Holy City these days.) Structures and scenes for each of the 14 Stations of the Cross were erected using locally quarried stone. The Passion was portrayed over several hours starting around 3 a.m. and ending with the Resurrection at sunrise on Easter morning. Its popularity peaked in the 1940s with over 150,000 visitors in observance on the surrounding hills and thousands of radio stations from all over the country broadcasting the services. During the mid-60s when we were there, it still attracted over 40,000 worshipers.
Muscle cars and drive-ins were ubiquitous in the 1960s and an army town like Lawton had more than its fair share of each.
Downtown Lawton - especially at night - was a wild, tempestuous place. Known as the "impact zone" to artillerymen, C and D streets were loud and often unruly with bars, pawn shops and brothels. But the good old days were gone forever when the city completely leveled the old impact zone and replaced it with an indoor mall. Here is a view in the 1960s before the mall.
Last - but not least - is the old restaurant and store in the abandoned mining town of Meers in the mountains west of Mount Scott. Home of the "Meersburger," this shack is still an attraction and many generations of artillerymen have walked those those doors just so they could go home at talk about it.
“An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted” -- Arthur Miller