Yes, Oklahoma's roads and bridges are pretty bad, but they have been worse.

I remember when we thought a graveled road was pretty good. That was because it was so much better than the dusty dirt roads on which we usually ran our Model-Ts.

When our family moved to Muskogee in 1926, my brother and I saw a paved road for the first time when we turned onto U.S. 66. We looked at each other in amazement and both said at the same time, "It's just like a sidewalk."

I can remember, years later, when what was left of the Norman bridge over the Canadian River was so untrustworthy that some adventuresome drivers would try, in the summertime, to dodge the quicksand and ford whatever stream there was at the time. Some made it. Wiser ones went all the way to Lexington to cross the river.

I have written about a one-lane section of U.S. 66 in northeastern Oklahoma, but I didn't know much about it. I recently found a clipping about that road written by Joe Howell of the old Tulsa Tribune. He had found out a lot about it.

It ran 14 miles from Miami, Okla., to Afton. It was built soon after the end of World War I in 1918.

When it was replaced in 1937, good old U.S. 66 was two lanes of pavement all the way from Baxter Springs, Kan., just northeast of Miami, to Texolo on the border of the Texas Panhandle west of Sayre.

Howell learned that Ottawa County people wanted to build a road from Miami to the lead and zinc mines between Miami and the Missouri line. It would be paid for with federal funds and state appropriations.

"The Bureau of Public Roads rejected the project because of its rule against using federal funds to build from a town into the country," Howell wrote.

So Miami interests decided to pave U.S. 66 from Miami to Afton, 14 miles to the southwest. There was not enough money for two lanes, so they just paved one.

Jack Freeman, a former resident highway engineer at Miami, told Howell the pavement was only nine feet wide. It had an eight-inch concrete border on each side and asphalt in between.

"When two cars met, one had to pull off the road for them to pass each other," Freeman said. "You had to take your chances."

Howell said a boyhood friend who lived in Miami at the time of the one-lane stretch told him the drivers tended to play chicken.

The friend said, Howell reported, that when some one asked who was supposed to get off, the one going north or the one going south, the answer was that there was no rule.

"We just tried to bluff the other fellow into getting off," the friend said.

However, I rode over that one-lane road several times, long before I was old enough to drive. I seem to remember that both drivers would keep their left wheels on the pavement and the right wheels off. That would seem to be the more logical practice, though it would not necessarily remove the chance to play chicken to see who moved over first.

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