Great State: Okeene’s Galvanized Palace

Great State
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OKEENE, OKLAHOMA -- Locals call the beer joint inside an unnasuming corrugated quonset the GalPal, but it's full name is most descriptive.

The squeaky sign calls it what it is, the Galvanized Palace.

"I see these guys pretty much every day," says current owner Nancy Cottrell.

"I ride my bicycle here," laughs one of the first two customers of the evening.

She is the latest in a long line of proprietors dating back more than 50 years.

Cottrell is  the one who glued all the beer case boxes to decorate the ceiling.

"As I would sell the beer," she says, explaining how she put them up over time.

Another owner before her brought in a stuffed rattlesnake for display.

There are customers who remember this place as the farmer's co-op full of live chickens and cream cans.

Longtime customer Sanny Day is one of those who comes in for a cold one now instead of fresh eggs.

"I don't know how many different owners, three or four different people, who have run it in past years," he says.

There is a local abstract that shows a structure here as early as 1899.

Layer upon layer of history follows.

When Nancy came to town she was a college student, lured to the Gal Pal with a job offer to tend bar.

"It's just an interesting place to hear some local history," she says explaining partly why she stayed.

"You almost wouldn't want to touch the outside of the place," says a visitor.

"No, I wouldn't" Nancy answers.

"I would be strung up the flag pole if I tried to change anything on the outside."

Okeene's only bar is a pretty quiet place most of the time.

Farmers come in to talk about the fall planting or politics.

Regulars come in through the back door to shoot a little pool.

There is a knight in tarnished armor that Sanny bought in Mexico and somehow found it's way through the door as well.

He stands guard with a pool cue lance.

"Someone brought that in from out back a few years ago," says Cottrell.

The Gal Pal remains that old friend, unchanged, who welcomes with open arms and ready refreshment.

"It's cold beer," says Sanny Day.

\"The coldest beer in Western Oklahoma," echoes another warm seat further down the bar.

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