Love Bottling accountant Beth Gulley doesn’t seem to do things in a small way.
The Arkansas native attended Northeastern State University after graduating Muskogee High School in 1977.
“But my priorities changed and I got married,” she said.
And her life has become full of hobbies as well as the opportunity to travel.
Gulley’s garden features productive lime trees and tropical plant with big leaves — plants she keeps in a greenhouse during bad weather.
Her travels have taken her around the world, visiting such places as Russia, the Baltic Sea, Adriatic Sea, Tahiti and Africa.
“We thank the Love family for that,” she said, adding that she and her husband were involved with a travel ambassador program for Dr. Pepper.
She said she gets a lot of garden ideas while traveling.
“Recently we went on a river cruise through Amsterdam, and they had a big exhibit of flowers,” she said, recalling an array of dahlias.
Gulley bowls with a league each Monday night.
“Now that I’ve gotten older and slower, I’m not as good,” she said.
The Gulleys also are big time decorators for Halloween, when the front lawn becomes haunted by tunnels, lights and candy shooting through two-story tubes.
“It’s just a little more than having to walk up and give them candy, it gives them something to do,” Beth Gulley said, adding that more than 600 youngsters come to visit.
She said they spend about a week setting up the display., and they don’t have to bankrupt themselves buying candy.
“We have friends and family who come to our house and they ask me what they can bring and we always tell them candy, just bring candy,” she said.
About 20 friends and family also help distribute the candy that special night. It’s all for the kids.
“That’s our joy, the kids,” she said. “We love it. And the parents, we let them go through it, too. Some of the parents love it as much as the kids.”
Beth Gulley says one secret to bowling well is to be consistent and know the lanes.
Being consistent in the approach and the ball release takes practice, she said.
Knowing the lanes means determining the amount and patterns of oil on each lane. The oil, which is applied by the bowling alley, determines how much the ball will hook, she said.
“They point it to the head pin sometimes,” she said. “When you are warming up, you can kind of get a feel for how much oil is on the lanes.”
She said she makes adjustments to adapt to the oil pattern. This might mean moving her body over or adjusting the throw.
Gulley said she uses a 15-pound ball.
“It seems to knock the pins down better,” she said, noting that she maintains a 170 average.
“For a woman, that’s a pretty good average,” she said. “You set personal goals, and instead of competing against somebody else, you want to do it for yourself.”
She said her best score was 297, which she reached sometime in the 1980s.
“You take 12 strikes to have a perfect game of 300,” she recalled. “I had the 11 strikes. On the last ball, my hands started shaking so hard, I threw a weak ball, just seven pins.”
love of gardening
Having a greenhouse helps Gulley keep tropical plants, such as bird of paradise, growing throughout the year.
“Then we have lime trees, lemon trees, avocado trees,” she said. “We haven’t got avocados yet, but they tell me it takes a few years. We’ve actually just bought the tree.”
The lime trees are especially productive, she said. “They’re the really small limes.”
The greenhouse allows the Gulleys to grow in winter.
“We keep a heater out there, we monitor and have a watering system for it,” she said, adding that it’s been “trial and error on what will make it over the winter.”
They use the greenhouse to show how plants are grown.
“We’ve even planted cotton before,” she said. “We didn’t have very much. We just wanted to the kids to see it, know what it looks like. We’ve planted corn and popcorn.”
Gulley said she and her husband are getting into hydroponics, a type of garden that doesn’t use soil. She said they bought AeroGarden, which has a special light and says when to add plant food.
“That was one of our gifts for Christmas to each other,” she said. “We hope to do herbs and tomatoes, have that through the winter.”
Dr. Pepper Incentives enabled the Gulleys to travel around the world. Beth Gulley said they promote the brand while traveling.
Tahiti was a favorite place.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “We would scuba dive, and the scuba diving was like swimming in an aquarium, the water was so clear. We saw eels and barracuda, beautiful fish.”
The Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco also were unique.
She recalled encountering Gibraltar’s famous assertive monkeys.
“We took pictures where they were sitting on our heads,” she said. “The monkeys are so used to people, they’re really aggressive. They warn you not to feed them anything.”
The Gulleys then rode a ferry across to Tangier.
“We were there just one day,” she said, recalling so many men in turbans.
“All the shops and the produce and the rugs,” she said. “My husband and I ended up buying a rug there. We were excited about that. A busy, busy place.”
Q and A
HOW DID YOU COME TO BE AN OKIE FROM MUSKOGEE?
“My family. When my family moved here. I just stayed here all my life, and I love it. It’s just the right size town.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT MUSKOGEE?
“The right-sized town to raise your family. Not a lot of traffic. You get a chance to meet a lot of helpful people. Muskogee Little Theatre is wonderful, and I love the way they are building up the downtown Depot Green area. There is always something to do, from the Garden of Lights, The Castle, hot air balloon festival, the banner auction after the Azalea Festival.”
WHAT WOULD MAKE MUSKOGEE A BETTER PLACE TO LIVE?
“Shopping here in Muskogee is an issue. But on the positive side, I love the small, locally-owned businesses on Main Street. Hopefully, the people of Muskogee will continue to support them and also the local events that the Civic Center brings to town.”
WHAT PERSON IN MUSKOGEE DO YOU ADMIRE MOST?
“I can think of two. Erik Puckett, superintendent at Hilldale Public Schools. He was my supervisor there for five years, and I learned that he has a passion for children and their education. He is a very kind and fair man. Also, Marlon Coleman is a true friend. He is a great mayor and leader with a vision for Muskogee.”
WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE THING TO HAPPEN TO YOU IN MUSKOGEE?
“The day my daughter Meagan and husband James got baptized the same day in the swimming pool at the YMCA.”
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
“Start the day with a devotional. Love to travel, bowling in a league weekly, gardening and playing games with my grandkids. Just focusing on the family.”
HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP MUSKOGEE IN 25 WORDS OR LESS?
“It’s a great place to live! There is always something to do in Muskogee. Just look around and get involved. Enjoy life.”
MEET Beth Gulley.
EDUCATION: Longfellow Elementary, Jefferson Elementary, West Junior High, Muskogee High School class of 1977, Northeastern State University.
PROFESSION: Accounts payable and payroll at Love Bottling.
FAMILY: Husband, James; daughter Meagan Moore; two grandchildren.
CHURCH: New Community.
HOBBIES: Bowling, gardening, traveling.