Many Tulsans know him as “G. Oscar,” the name that resides over his bike shop in downtown Tulsa. Hell, I embarrassingly even called him “Mister Oscar” when I was in the market for my ride. For 15 years, Herron’s shop has served as a hub of sorts for anyone from bicycle enthusiasts to commuters and professional riders. They show up to buy new bikes, tune up their existing rides, or spruce-up their whole collection. When you meet Herron and his wife Judy, you are struck at their laid back yet attentive and engaging way with customers. It’s also easy to be charmed by their shop: a rustic, romantic looking little house on Main Street.
That’s G. Oscar: bike dealer. But then there’s Gaylord Oscar Herron: renowned photographer, former KOTV newscaster, formerly of the Tulsa Tribune and author of the iconic photography book, Vagabond (Penumbra Press, 1975). Herron’s lens captured the glory of Tulsa’s past, causing the viewer to mourn the leveling of its history, building by building. He showed me a striking photograph of downtown Tulsa in his famous sepia print style; and when I asked him where that spot is today, he said, “I believe this is home plate in the new Driller Stadium”.
Just like that, I had an appreciation of a veteran photographer who has spent much of his life documenting Tulsa the same way I’ve been trying. He showed me many more of his prints (some of them dating in the last decade) where I could see more of the torn-down Tulsa landmarks that I had never seen before.
If you’re ready to look at Tulsa through the eyes of one its most authentic artists, then you’ll have to hunt around for a rare copy of Vagabond. Or you’ll have to buy a bike.
True Tulsa is a weekly project that highlights the people and places that make our city great. Find out how you can get involved in This Land Press.