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Chuck Hinman: IJMA. Gravy Over All

Gravy Over All. Chuck tells the story of the beginning of Murphy's Steak House, famous for its slogan 'Gravy over all.'
Next earlier Chuck Hinman column - Old Pictures: Memories

By Chuck Hinman

Gravy Over All

Go to White Rose Cemetery and enter from the east on the south side of the cemetery. Drive west and look closely just past the Mausoleum. There is a lovely highly polished black granite stone. On the east side with gold letters carved into the black granite is the phrase 'Gravy over all.'

Gravestone says 'Gravy over all'

Underneath is a steaming pile of golden french fries. Yes, you guessed it, it is Mr. Murphy's stone as the engraving on the west side of the stone attests. Melvel and Lorene Murphy, original owners of the iconic Murphy's Steak House, who both died in 1999, are buried here.

(An article in the Bartlesville, Oklahoma, paper notes that it is a large 'marble' marker bearing a likeness of Murphy's trademark menu favorite, the hot hamburger. Complete with sandwich and gravy ladle, the inscription 'Gravy over all' decorates one side of the marker.)

Ruth Weldon eats Murphy's first hamburger

Ruth Weldon, who has been here for eons, lays claim to eating the first hamburger he ever sold. Her future husband, Gilbert, worked for Baughman lumber. Back in the early '50's his job was to go to job sites and write up orders for building materials. He took the list back to the lumber yard where it was filled and delivered, saving the contractor a trip to the yard. After the materials were delivered he then went by job sites to check on the progress and write more orders or just congratulate the owners. Murphy's was scheduled to open the next day and Gilbert was making his rounds. Gilbert went by Ruth's house and invited her to go up to the job site with him. Mr. Murphy's brother-in-law who was his financial backer was there. Mr. Murphy was wringing his hands saying he knew the place wouldn't make it, it was in the wrong spot, people wouldn't like his hamburgers, etc. The brother-in-law said, "He makes the best hamburger west of the Mississippi! Make them a hamburger." So Mr. Murphy proceeded to fry the first hamburger on his new grill and served it to Ruth and Gilbert. She has written this report up and submitted it in her history to the Washington County History Museum.

Rick Stull reminds Chuck of his past influence

In 2009 Chuck wrote about his 'young friend' Rick Stull of Owasso, Oklahoma.

When day after day passes and my days on earth continue, I begin to squirm. But I settle down after emails like Rick's and think "OK, Lord -- take your time." I didn't realize that when Rick and I were fishing or 'working out' in the Phillips gym at noon, or working side by side in the Pioneer Building in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, a ministry (for you) was going on of which I wasn't aware.

Final trip to Murphy's

Rick made my day and I accept your invitation to go to Murphy's for a hamburger steak (pie not included) with 'gravy over all' and especially if we go in your Corvette with the top off!

Happy 28th anniversay. I remember you singing "Tammy" to your wife 'Tammy' at the wedding. I can't believe 28 years have passed. God bless, and thanks Rick for your kind words. The feeling is mutual! (274 lbs - bench press in 1967! I have the card that verifies it! -- CH)

Written by Chuck Hinman. Emailed Thursday, 2 February 2006 with added material from 2009.

Editorial Note: Chuck's story 'Gravy over all' is very short so I have added some information from the local paper and from another story. It was through Ruth Weldon that I first heard of Chuck Hinman. I corresponded with her for several years. RHS)

Michael Stern wrote about Murphy's in 2005 Murphy's Steak House

Murphy's Steak House
1625 SW Frank Phillips Blvd., Bartlesville, OK 74003 - (918) 336-4789
Posted By Michael Stern on October 11, 2005 4:23 AM

This story was posted on 2013-12-22 04:00:30
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