April 7, 1997
A couple of names that made the news at different levels and for totally different reasons caught my eye this week and I'd like to tell you what I know about them.
Chances are you never heard of Laura Lou Medley unless you're a collector of china and crystal patterns. She died in Oklahoma City the other day at the age of 84 and that was sad to hear because she was a quiet, gentle lady who enjoyed visiting with the customers who found their way into her unique little shop in Oklahoma City, first at the old Tuesday Morning Mall on Britton Road where she opened for business on Mothers Day in 1971. More recently the shop has been at a newer, but temporary, location on north May avenue. The shop has been in the process of closing down the past few months since Mrs. Medley's health took a serious turn. It's called simple "Laura's Antiques and China."
The shelves and storeroom were full of lovely old pieces of china serving pieces and dinner ware, and with dainty crystal that somehow always looked sparkling and clean. It must have been difficult to keep them all dust-free. Only loving hands could have taken such good care of so many fragile items. Mrs. Medley always seemed relaxed and usually sat in a comfortable chair where she could help direct customers to the precise area of the store that held the patterns that interested them. A less patient soul would have found it very difficult to remain calm while strangers wandered through the narrow aisles, clothing brushing the edges of tables and shelves where the merchandise was displayed.
My Laura and I were in there once and a while to see what Mrs. Medley had been able to locate in one of our china patterns. It's been in my family for more than 70 years and we like to make additions when the right things show up. Laura Medley was always most helpful and even sent little notes in the mail when something came along that she thought we'd be interested in hearing about. On our first visit there, when she learned we were from Perry, she told us that her father, Alexander Young, made the Cherokee Strip land run in 1893 and farmed near Perry until moving to Oklahoma City to establish the Davis & Younger Horse and Mule Co. Her mother, Lula, was a teacher.
Mrs. Medley's late husband, Thurman, was an insurance executive and was perhaps best known outside of Oklahoma City for the baseball teams his company sponsored. The Medleys opened the china and crystal shop as retirement approached and she soon became established as one of the country's experts on china. According to her obituary, she worked six days a week in her shop until her health began to fail last year. We will miss our occasional visits in her interesting little place of business.
To celebrate a special anniversary, my Laura and I treated ourselves to a "grand tour" of Europe in the spring of 1984. We joined a group in Amsterdam and began a journey of nearly three weeks through some of the historic and scenic countries of Western Europe, down the Italian boot, up to Paris and finally ending in London. Spending every day on a tour bus with the same group of people for that long, one becomes pretty well acquainted with all of the others. Two that we especially remember are Lute and Bobbi Olson. They were an attractive, friendly couple, always looking for gifts to take home to their children and grandchildren back in Arizona.
I was only a moderate fan of big-time college basketball, so Lute's name really didn't mean anything to me. In our occasional conversations it came out that he was the head coach at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Big deal. I wasn't really impressed until, at the end of our tour, he received word that he had been chosen to help coach a European team getting ready for the Olympics. Consequently he and Bobbi left our group a little early, but ever since then his name keeps popping up.
I've become a little more attentive since then and am very aware now that Lute Olson is one of the nation's premier basketball coaches. His Wildcats surprised virtually everyone, including themselves, by knocking off three No. 1 seeds en route to the NCAA championship at Indianapolis the other night against the favored Kentucky Wildcats. Since neither OSU nor OU made it to the big dance this year, I had to pull for Lute. It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.