Even now it’s not hard to imagine 97-year-old Cleo Noe Lamson sitting at the cash register up front in the Wide-A-Wake Café to which she devoted much of her life. The structure was torn down in 1984 and the land turned into a parking lot, but many will remember when the Wide-A-Wake was the place to be.

Cleo and Crawford Noe met in Frederick in 1924, and on Christmas Day they and another couple married at Tipton’s Orphan’s Home where their preferred pastor happened to be preaching. “I was 17 and my dad was pretty upset,” Lamson said, “but he turned out to be one of the best friends Crawford ever had.”

The couple tried their hand at cotton farming in Ozark, but seven years and two baby daughters later, Crawford was managing a Hobbs, N.M. pool hall when it failed along with the oil field, and Mother Noe took action.

She sent her son Gene hitchhiking off to New Mexico, telling him, “Don’t come back without Crawford and Cleo and those two babies. So he did,” Lamson said, “and five of us in a little Dodge came back to Oklahoma.”

Mother Noe had property in Edmond where the Wide-A-Wake would be established at 213 S. Broadway.

“She already had a hat shop in half of it and there was a chili place called Night and Day in the other half, but we opened it all up into one building.”

The café opened in 1931 and could seat as many as 31 customers — originally at a counter and two tables that were later replaced by three booths — and at one time Wide-A-Wake offered curb service and outside tables.

Lamson said when they got to Edmond they had $13 in cash, but they made it last. “Crawford and I worked the day shift,” she said, and Gene and his wife worked the night shift until we bought them out later.”

For nine years, the Noe boys and their families lived with Mother Noe, who cared for the children while Lamson and Crawford worked. And work they did — 24 hours a day seven days a week. Though Lamson had never so much as eaten in a café more than three or four times, she did eventually learn to cook.

“Bud Kale from the service station on the corner came in one day and ordered a T-bone steak,” she said, “and I had to go back there and cook it. He wanted it rare, but when I sent it out to him he said, “Oh, my! I wanted you to at least heat it!”

Her most embarrassing moment, though, occurred several years later when the bowl of chili she was carrying on a plate slipped off and spilled onto a customer. “He was so nice,” she said, “and we took care of the situation.”

Lamson said the Wide-A-Wake was busy from the minute they opened. “We were located on Route 66 and SH 77, so truck drivers would be out there sleeping in their trucks. We’d go out and wake them up, feed them and get them started. Breakfast was 25 cents, and so was our plate special.

“When we first opened we had all kinds of help,” Lamson said. “We provided uniforms and paid them about 50 cents a day plus meals. Most of them went to college, so they came and went, but they were lovely girls and we were just like family. After they graduated, some of them went on to do really well for themselves.”

Crawford died in 1953 and Lamson operated Wide-A-Wake by herself for a time. “But,” Lamson said, “I had a really good lady, Elsie Wolf, who helped. I leased it to her later on, and it continued to prosper for many years.”

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