Before moving to Lawton in 2006, I spent a lifetime before that traveling through Lawton as it was another town on the way to grandma's house in far Southwestern Oklahoma. Each time we came through, as a youth (yute), I'd always ask why we never went into Lawton as opposed to always taking Rogers Lane around it, and I always got the same two answers depending on which parent I was asking.

Dads standard reply growing up was "There's too many traffic lights." Growing up in cities big and small, I didn't understand the premise of how a town could have too many traffic lights until I moved here and started driving the same roads you travel too. It's not really anyones fault there are so many ridiculous traffic lights, a lot of people share that fault. You can blame past city engineers, civil architects, and the vain city officials of days old that decided mixing the two distinct styles of city planning was a good idea.

I've lived in both grid and wheel-and-spoke towns. Towns built on the grid are the easiest to traverse. Everything is either in front, behind, to the left or to the right of anywhere you are at any given moment. Simple, easy. Wheel-and-spoke patterned towns are a little tricky. It's just a curved grid where everything surrounds the city center, and moves outward in circled streets... like the spokes of a wagon wheel... so in order to get to the place directly in front of you, you might have to turn left or right to get there. If you travel through almost any of the Lawton neighborhoods, you run into both of these city planning patterns meshed together in the most convoluted and stupid design possible... err go, we have stop lights at poorly planned intersections like Cache and 16th Street, Sheridan and Smith, Gore and 53rd Street, etc... The intersections get worse the further into some neighborhoods you go. As old as Lawton is, I'm guessing it was originally designed during the morphine epidemic, and the later planning was done in tribute... or city hall spent too much time seeking out them rocks on 2nd Street before gentrification.

In our travels, when I'd ask my mom why we never ventured into Lawton, she'd always say "It's too dangerous." Now before some Karen shoots me an email telling me how Lawton is the "murder capital" and "the most violent town" blah blah blah... know this, Lawton is still on a huge upswing in terms of safety. In the 70's, 80's, and 90's, this town was a war zone hell-bent on tearing itself apart. People were split by every measure of demographic. Preps vs greasers, gang fighting, school vs school... tensions once even flared so wickedly, one massive street fight broke out between races, and that was in the day where taking off your belt to wield a big brass belt buckle was the SWOK Saturday Night Special. Lawton has gained a lot of ground against violence since the turn of the century.

Even after moving here, I still found myself finding the easiest route to places via Rogers Lane... but after adding so many stop lights to that stretch of Autobahn, the juice just isn't worth the squeeze anymore. Since it's been so long since I traveled Rogers Lane, it was a surprise to see the stretch of houses between Sheridan and Ft Sill Blvd getting a little privacy in the form of a new wood fence. I'm sure this is partly to help cut down the road noise for residents, but it most likely serves to gentrify that neighborhood a bit too. As a kid, I always looked through the chain link along the road to see into someone elses life. All in all, it's probably a good move for everyone involved, even if our water bill continues to spike ridiculously out of control to pay for it. But the movement to vote out every incumbent local politician isn't on my calendar just yet. That's a story for another time my friend.

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