By Terrell Lester
Editor at Large
GOOD COOKIN’: The management of the Tulsa Oilers has discovered the perfect restaurant in Locust Grove: DJ’s Diner, which is owned and operated by the team’s number one fan, Marcia Weaver. From left after a great lunch are Tulsa sports personality J. V. Haney, Oilers’ Owner Jeff Lund, Weaver, and Oilers’ Coach Butch Kaebel.
TERRELL LESTER for GTR Newspapers
Marcia Weaver has been serving up delightful, and tempting, surprises for some eight or nine years now as the fountainhead of DJ’s Diner in Locust Grove.
Positioned ever so precisely, so prudently, beside the homey and scenic thoroughfare that eases through Locust Grove, DJ’s is known as the home of the best burger in Mayes County as well as the most vivacious redhead to ever don an apron.
The burger, in tandem with a phalanx of fries and cradled in a basket of paper and plastic, is an epicurean treasure, unequalled in flavor and presentation.
Likewise, its creator, Marcia Weaver, is an entrepreneurial treasure, unequalled in the art of cooking and conversation.
She can flip burgers by the order, one by one, but she flips over hockey all day long, tit for tat.
But on a recent spring afternoon, Marcia Weaver almost flipped right out of her hockey T-shirt when the two most important figures in Tulsa hockey served up a little surprise of their own.
Jeff Lund, owner of the Tulsa Oilers, and Butch Kaebel, coach of those same Tulsa Oilers, arrived at DJ’s Diner unannounced.
They didn’t arrive so much for the hamburger as they did for the hockey.
These two men of the ice walked right in to DJ’s Diner, smack in the middle of the Locust Grove lunch crowd, and straight up to Marcia Weaver, her own surprised self.
“Oh, my God!” she exclaimed in her playoff-tested hockey voice. “Look who’s here!”
She had never met either one.
But being the good hockey fan, the good Oilers fan that she is, she could pick them out of any crowd.
She could recognize the coach, for goodness sake. She had cheered him, often, from her front-row seats in the Tulsa Convention Center.
She could recognize the owner, too. She had saluted him, often, from her position in line at the concession stand at the Tulsa Convention Center.
But that was in their house. That was on their home ice.
Now they were in her sitting room. In her kitchen.
“Oh, my God!” she exclaimed, her voice rising another octave. Or two.
“I just can’t believe it!”
What can’t be believed, actually, would be her disbelief.
After all, she is the most avid Tulsa Oilers fan in Locust Grove and, Mayes County. Maybe even Tulsa itself.
The windows of DJ’s Diner, the ice-rink sized windows that should be proclaiming to all passers-by the bountiful menu that awaits within, instead resemble a shrine to the Tulsa Oilers.
There are Oiler posters. Oiler pennants. Oiler pictures. Plastered on panes of glass with pride and, of course, prejudice.
As one of her customers was moved to pronounce: “Marcia is the No. 1 hockey fan in town. She eats, breathes, sleeps and lives hockey.”
And in the moments when Lund and Kaebel showered her with Oiler paraphernalia, from pucks to jerseys to pennants, Marcia Weaver lit up like a scoring lamp after an Oiler goal.
If she lived hockey before, now she was living a hockey dream.
But unlike that scoring light, Marcia’s effervescence never dimmed on this special day.
The sparkle in her eyes could only be measured in candlepower.
The trail of her voice was hotter than the kitchen grill.
Lund and Kaebel had been told of her passion for the Oilers.
The descriptive phraseology of mere mortals fails to plumb the depth of Marcia’s passion for hockey.
A boy’s infatuation with burgers and fries is no match for Marcia’s love of hockey.
She is an Oilers season ticket-holder. Has been for eight full seasons. She is a proud possessor of 55 genuine hockey jerseys. Well, 56 now, since Lund and Kaebel came bearing gifts.
They drove to DJ’s Diner, Oklahoma’s most eastern outpost for Oiler celebration and exultation, at the urging of a friend and noted gadabout.
J.V. Haney, Tulsa sports media personality, had driven the scenic ribbon through Locust Grove recently and had been struck by the vision of Oilers regalia on Marcia’s storefront.
Although he did not stop, he could see enough to report to Lund.
Excitedly, Haney plotted an afternoon excursion for himself, Lund and Kaebel. With a well-placed telephone call to a hamburger-sports aficionado to measure the sincerity in this display of affection, the date was set. With surprise in mind.
Marcia was, indeed, surprised.
But not so much that she forgot how to talk hockey.
She quickly overcame her initial shock.
The fan, the knowledgeable observer, surfaced.
She quizzed Kaebel about prospects for next season.
She peppered Lund with recollections of Oilers of the past.
“You know, he wore No. 27 in 2001,” she told Lund, helping him remember a virtually forgotten Oiler.
She recalled specific instances in Oilers playoff games. Recalled primary combatants in regular-season scuffles. Even recalled the events that precipitated each conflict.
She talked of Oiler defensemen, Oiler goalies, Oiler wins, Oiler losses. Oiler ties.
She laughed. She frowned. She clapped her hands as memories of certain events, certain opponents, were revisited.
Lund said that he would like to designate DJ’s Diner “the official café of the Tulsa Oilers.”
Marcia said she would like to ride the Zamboni machine.
She looked at Kaebel, and in a firm voice that bespoke confidence and experience, said: “You are definitely the best thing that’s ever happened to this team.”
She has been an Oilers fan for some eight years, long before Kaebel was an Oilers player, long before he was the Oilers coach, but about the same length of time that Lund has been the Oilers owner.
She talked about going to her first with a friend.
Marcia was hooked after one game.
Her friend never went back.
Marcia almost never misses a game.
She drives to Wichita for a game. To Oklahoma City. To Shreveport.
She drives the 60 miles from Locust Grove to Tulsa for every game. Sometimes she drives with a friend. Sometimes she drives alone. Always she drives with passion.
“It’s the only sport I’ve ever been interested in,” she says.
“I don’t like football. I don’t like basketball. I don’t like baseball.
“I love hockey.”