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Oklahoma Business

Go Buck Yourself: Grinning and Winning at Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios in Tulsa

5:45 AM EDT on September 27, 2021

There’re three things that I’m particularly bad at: taking care of my health, taking care of the love I find and, perhaps worst of all, winning at anything and everything.

I used to enter contests online in the hopes of emerging the champion of typing my name and address into a computer, but usually only succeeded in hundreds upon hundreds of unsolicited emails.

That is until I won fifty bucks from TravelOK to Buck Atom’s Cosmic Curios, located at 1347 E. 11th, on Route 66 over in Tulsa:

Though I had driven by the refurbished gas station many times, with the lumbering mascot Buck keeping watch out front, I had never stopped there. And I really don’t know why, as outré curios like the ones they sell are always something I’m interested in—many years ago, here in Oklahoma City, there was a shop called the Television Factory that I truly loved. I wish that a place like that, that suits my sensibilities, would return here.

I headed out there with a lovely friend of mine, giving her the hard-won gift card as a sort of belated birthday present. Parking in the street about a half a block away, we made our way to the curio shop, greeted by the large statue, a mash-up of a cowboy and an astronaut, welcoming us with a sly smile and a large rocket ship in his hands. Take that, Golden Driller.

With 1950s robots decorated all around the inside and outside of the place—the nuclear era of kitschy decoration is beautifully marked throughout the entire shop—I tied Sean to the park bench outside near a couple of small children that gently played with him as I went inside through the glass door, entering into an atomic age wonderland.

A mixture of cold war neon and recent newspaper clippings were on the walls, giving the place a well-coiffed look of a rather cool teenager’s room. Featuring the most out-there knick-knacks and bric-a-brac from Oklahoma lore and legends, from the yodeling cowgirls of the immediate past to the wily sasquatch tee that was recently featured on an episode of Reservation Dogs, the place had a unique look at this state’s past, the kind that isn’t featured in most, if any, textbooks.

I pulled an ice-cold bottle of Route 66 black cherry soda—made with pure cane sugar—from the small fridge as my friend found herself a Cain’s Ballroom shirt, one of her favorite places in Tulsa. I perused the postcards and other paper products as she found another trinket, a coffee cup—handmade, mind you—that said “Okie Doke” along the front.

We took our goods up to the front and I presented my gift card to the person working the counter. Highly personable, she asked us if we were from out of town and we told her we were from the Big Town. She then regaled us with her tales of Oklahoma City travel, talking about the magical land that this city is. I replied to her that I felt Tulsa was that way for me.

I guess every new place, with its discoveries of shopping, eats and such, is always magical when you don’t get it all the time and, honestly, I like it better that way.

Leaving Buck Atom’s, I untied Sean from the picnic table where the pumps used to sit and he said goodbye to the kids and they hugged him sweetly. Walking back to her car, behind Buck’s was a house outfitted with tinsel and streamers, as well as more robots and a large gopher; I thought it was rather for festive for the area.

Turns out, as I soon learned, it’s owned by the shop as an AirBnB. One day, I hope to spend the night there, if only to continue my study on the molecular physics of a good night’s sleep in someone else’s home. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll buy the meat from the Tulsa Brisket Company truck only a few feet away.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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