Split-T Story Redux
Since Monday’s story about the Split-T published, I’ve received a high volume of calls and emails, thanking me for the trip down memory lane. I’ve also had two calls from readers who had a beef with the treatise on the iconic charcoal-ovenry.
One with a minor complaint, the other with a major one.
First the smaller stuff.
Rick Haynes is the son of David “Johnnie” Haynes, the longtime manager of the Split-T who went on to open Johnnie’s Charcoal Broiler.
“My dad never washed dishes at the Split-T,” Rick told me. “I don’t know where that rumor got started, but it’s not true.”
I also got an email from Bill Fisher, who said he and a friend helped Vince Stephens and Johnnie clean up the space that was to become the Split-T before it ever opened. He wrote, “I doubt if ‘Johnnie’ ever washed a dish in his life.”
Fisher, Johnnie was hired as manager of the Split-T from day one, and had come over from the Sky Chef at the airport.
I let both Rick and Bill know, that I’d picked up that detail from stories The Oklahoman published years before and found them in our archive with no correction tags. Just a bit of background: At the Oklahoman, if we get something wrong in a published story our policy is to publish a correction in the paper. The other thing we’re required to do is send our archive department a copy of the correction, which is tagged to the archived story so the mistake will never be repeated. Either no one called when the assertion was printed years ago, or the reporter who wrote it didn’t tag the mistake. Either way, it’s easy to see how a rumor like that gets started, and Rick said it wasn’t a big deal, but that he was tired of hearing it so he thought he’d let me know. He also was concerned that his father might’ve been implicated in Clara Luper’s story recollection of the sit-in at the Split-T. Clara refers to a manager, but not by name. Rick says his father didn’t have a racist bone in his body and that he was raised in a house that was multicultural. Rick did have a theory as to who started the conflict, but since Clara didn’t name names I don’t think it’s necessary to start. The bottom line is, the Split-T was part of the Sixties and so was the Civil Rights Movement. For a short time, the two crossed paths and in the end conflict was resolved.
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