Favorite thing: Touring Oklahoma towns is not unlike touring a Gothic cathedral -- the visitor can wander through and check off certain features. As stated ad infinitum elsewhere, towns in Oklahoma generally have a national bank, an old depot, a wonderful church and a Victorian-style clock either on or near their main square or courthouse lawn. With Pawnee the "town clock" stands not on the main square by catty-cornered just off the grands, on the lawn of -- a funeral home.
Favorite thing: As you can imagine after looking at most of my other Oklahoma pages, Pawnee is generally a Victorian-era town composed mainly of red brick buildings. Although not as extensive as those in Guthrie nor as tightly-ranked as those in Perry, the general architectural scheme for Pawnee is the same as for everywhere else -- red brick facades, two stories generally, and the original date of construction (or better yet, its original ownership and function) etched on the outward face of the upper floor.
The historical society off the main square is a good place to start to enjoy your tour of town. While genealogy and other official records will obviously be kept at the nearby courthouse, the historical society will have all the artefacts and publications that add color and local flavor to the official documents. Anything pertaining to Pawnee culture and current events not available on the town's website will be available here.
Favorite thing: The town's public square offers a few attractions besides the courthouse and veterans memorial. Of these, there is a pavilion given by the community to the local government as a gift commemorating the town's centennial. Not far from that pavilion is an old fire engine, the kind drawn by horses at the turn of the century.
Here's something that I found absolutely fascinating about Pawnee. Chester Gould, the man who gave us Dick Tracy and his two-way wrist radio, was born in this humble hamlet in 1900. Today the town commemorates the fame of both writer and detective in the annual Dick Tracy Days, held in October. Sponsored by the local historical society, all the residents collectively seem to join wits (and costumes) as the comic strip detective in this respectful but frolicsome pageant in the early fall.
Favorite thing: Not all is however downtrodden in the downtown lanes of Pawnee. What was once a Vaudevillian warehouse is now a furniture salon, and other ancient relics have had sparkling face lifts through the energy of new enterprises. There is no shame in delighting with what Pawnee has to offer, but sadly, most visitors will leave wondering how the decay can sit so distastefully amid the renewed.
Favorite thing: Many of Pawnee's buildings are falling into disrepair, or new businesses have not yet taken up general quarters in these turn-of-the-century hollows to keep their outward appearance in better-than-lurid shape. Take for instance the former movie theater next to the Arkansas Valley State Bank. The ticket window is intact but ventilated by a growing number of fractures. The recesses for the movie marquees still line the portico, but no posters have appeared in them these many years. The more the locals allow such decay to reign beneath their noses, the more the public square will resemble the theater.