Tag Archives: McAlester Oklahoma

My Book Review

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This is the last day of the year and I’m doing what I’ve done every day since May. I’m talking to people about my book, Dobyns Chronicles. I never realized how hard it is to get people to read a book you know they will enjoy.

My blog today is a review of my book by Motorwriter.com. I thought it was great and wanted to share it with everyone. It is a wonderful feeling when people like what you have put on paper.  Ok, I’ll have my arm casted tomorrow from patting myself on the back but today, since it’s the last day of the year I’m going to keep patting.

I also want to everyone to know how much I appreciate the support that has been given to me. I’ve made some new friends, and connected again with some old ones. Life is full of struggles and heartbreak but it is also full of love and kindness and I have been blessed with a abundance of the love and kindness.

As this year ends I want everyone to know how much they are appreciated and lets continue to make this world a better place to live for as long as we are here.  Blessings to all and Happy New Year.

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The Finest Generation – A review of the novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’

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“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams” – Don DeLillo

Author Shirley McLain’s latest novel ‘Dobyns Chronicles’ is a historical fiction loosely based on the life and times of her grandfather Charles Kenly Dobyns. Charles orCharley to those close to him was the eldest son of Kennerly, an American cowboy and Eliza, a Cherokee Indian and was raised in a farm in Red River in Bonham near Northeast Texas. The book chronicles his life story from the late 1800’s when he was a young boy in a Texan farm to mid 1950’s when he became a great grandfather in McAlester, Oklahoma. The book paints a moving real life story about a young man’s resolve dealing with the various tragedies life threw at him while also caring for his two siblings, younger brother David and sister Viola. This novel presents a fascinating look at vintage Americana and will fill your mind with nostalgia about a simpler life led in much simpler times.

Right off the bat, the first thing that you are going to notice and that too barely a couple of pages into the book is the wonderful use of the English language. It has become almost a rarity in mainstream literature to come across such beautiful phrases and prose that make you stop and read a line twice just for the sheer literary pleasure it gives you. The next best thing about this book is the pitch perfect way in which the author has been able to portray the laid back and lazy times with the back breaking, difficult and adventure filled day in an old western town. It is so descriptive that the character’s spirituality, the numerous odd jobs done around the house, cattle drive and horse breaking somehow become second nature to you by the time you are done with the book. And for people of this century where everything is available to them at the touch of a button, this book will be a throwback to our older and harsher times when day to day living meant a constant battle with the various elements of the nature.

Blending the fiction seamlessly with the many historical and factual events of the late 18th century and early 19th century, Shirley has made good use of various events like the yellow fever epidemic, the great depression and the absurd tax laws to good effect and has used them strategically at various points in the novel to underline the emotions of her characters in that setting beautifully. The changes happening over time and the various developments too have been captured nicely; case in point isCharley staying at a hotel for the very first time. Shirley also seems to have a knack in getting children’s behaviour and their conversations right, the change in tone and content when the conversation moves from a child to an adult is always bang on target.

The entire book will tug at your heart strings and make you think about your own family, it will also make you reminisce about your childhood as you read about the childhood of the Dobyn kids. And even though your childhood may have been vastly different from theirs, you will still feel a connection to the various commonalities that affect us humans across time and different nationalities. The epilogue and the photographs at the end really get to you and even though a life that you have been witness to from a young age has come to an end, you are in a strange way left with so many memories of this man. And this is because of the way the author has captured these scenes and emotions, by taking you right into the lives and homes of these people instead of merely narrating a story.

Great authors have often talked about the secrets that make a book appeal to audiences everywhere. They stress upon having a standout first chapter to make the readers commit to the book, a good first page that will blow them away and a great first line that will stay etched in their memory forever. If they are right then Shirley’s book has scored a definite ace on all three fronts and has emerged a clear winner.

Product Details

Print Length: 260 pages

Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1499024096

Publisher: Xlibris US (May 23, 2014)

ASIN: B00KNMM46S

Buy Fromhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KNMM46S/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

Slowly Swallowing Us

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English: A sinkhole in Oman Deutsch: Eine Doli...

English: A sinkhole in Oman Deutsch: Eine Doline im Oman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not going to write about the mechanism by which we ingest food. I want to spend a little bit of time writing about the earth opening up and swallowing us mere mortals. I feel so bad for the family that lost their son and brother down a sinkhole in Florida.

Sinkholes are one of the biggest fears my home town of McAlester Oklahoma has due to all of the mining that went on during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. The majority of the area has mine shafts running underneath. If one has occurred, I am not aware of it at this point in time.

I remember as a child seeing pictures of a house in Alaska in which the ground opened up and the entire house went down into a very big hole. You could at least see the roof. That was due to an earthquake. I think it was the late 1950,s when it happened. Growing up in California I was not surprised when the side of the road fell off due to the ground giving way because of so much rain.

The Bible even tells us in Numbers 16:32 KJV: “And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that [appertained] unto Korah, and all [their] goods.” From that verse it sounds like the earth was opening up and swallowing people and things back then. Science tells us that sinkholes are very common when the foundation underneath the dirt is limestone and it washes away over time. That’s a very non scientific interpretation of an action that can take thousands of years.

Some sinkholes are caused by nature, but many more are caused by man’s activity.

Decline of water levels –

drought, groundwater pumping (wells, quarries, mines)

Disturbance of the soil – digging through soil layers, soil removal, drilling

Point-source of water – leaking water/sewer pipes, injection of water

Concentration of water flow – storm water drains, swales, etc.

Water impoundments – basins, ponds, dams

Heavy loads on the surface – structures, equipment

Vibration – traffic, blasting

So as with most of our other problems we are contributing to them in a major way. Is there anything we can do to help ourselves? The obvious would be not to build houses over limestone, and stop doing everything I’ve listed above. Somehow I just don’t see that happening. I think most of us will stay oblivious to what is going on underground. I know I don’t think about the ground dropping out from underneath me, do you?

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Sally’s Warning Chapter 3

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Background
Sally is a senior in high school, dealing with an alcoholic father and a young man who once was married to her best friend. The story takes place in the late 1960’s.

 

It was 7:00 p.m. and Sally’s father still wasn’t home. She knows what it means and so does Mona. “Sally, put the dishes on the table. Your father can eat when he gets home.”

“Mama, when I get done eating, I’m going to take my shower and go to bed. I’m reading a really good book. It’s called, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest.”

“I’ve heard of that book. Aren’t they making a movie from it, or something?”

“Yeah, I think so. Oh, speaking of movies, that reminds me. Linda and me want to go to the show Saturday afternoon. Is that all right? There’s a good movie on with Bette Davis.”

“Yes, you can go, but you have to get your ironing done first.”

“Okay, I’ll iron Saturday morning while it’s cool. I might even do some on Friday night.”

Sally and her mom talk while they eat their supper. Then Sally gets her shower and crawls up on the top bunk to read. Her room is in the middle of the house without any windows. She keeps a box fan blowing on her all the time. That’s the only way she can stand the oppressive heat.

Her dad comes in about 8:00. She can tell by his speech he’s been drinking. Mona finishes the dishes and sits down. She looks at her husband and asks if he wants something to eat.

“No I don’t want anything to eat. I’m not hungry. Besides, you know I don’t eat when I’m drinking. Me and a couple of the guys went to the Hilltop when I got off work.”

“I figured as much.”

“Where’s Sally? It’s too early to go to bed.”

“She’s in bed, reading.”

It isn’t but a couple of minutes after her dad arrives in the house she hears him yell her name.

“Sally, come out here. Sally, come out and see your ol’ dad.”

She jumps down from the bunk and walks into the living room. “Hi, Dad, you wanted to see me.”

“I sure did, do you want to drive my truck tomorrow?”

“Sure, I’d like to.” What’s going on? He never lets me drive his truck. He even has a hard time with mama driving it sometimes.

“If I drive your truck to school tomorrow, what will you drive to work”?

“I didn’t say a damn thing about you driving my truck to school. You won’t set foot in my truck tomorrow.”

“Oh, ok. I thought that’s what you meant, that I can drive it to school.”

“No, I didn’t mean that. You have your own damn car to drive. Get out of here, I don’t want to look at you anymore.” Her dad says in a sarcastic tone. Sally tucks her head and leaves the room. I wonder what that was all about. I can’t win with that man.

Sally climbs up to her bunk and tries to get back into her book wanting to forget about her father. She can hear his voice getting louder and louder as he talks. She turns out her bedroom light so her father will think she is asleep. Maybe he won’t wake her. It’s not going to be easy to go to sleep with his yelling, and it’s so hot in here.

Sally is suddenly woke by her father’s turning the room light on. “What did you just say to me? I told you, you are not driving my truck.”

“Daddy, I’ve not said anything. I was asleep until you woke me.”

“Yeah right. I heard you, so don’t bother lying.”

“Please, Daddy. I won’t drive the truck tomorrow. I want to go back to sleep.”

“You’re damn right you won’t drive the truck. Ungrateful kid.”

He walks away from her door, and Sally has to crawl to the foot of her bunk to turn out the light. She has a difficult time getting back to sleep, but she finally drifts off.

Friday finally arrives. Sally has it all planned to get the ironing done this evening so she can sleep in in the morning. Mona is in the kitchen preparing to start their supper. Some of the family is coming over, so it will be a good dinner. Sally calls out to her mom, “Mama, I’m going out front and sit for a little while and let it cool down more before I start my ironing”.

“Okay,” Mona says as she stands at the sink peeling potatoes.

Sally wasn’t outside ten minutes when Bill pulls up. She groans inwardly and waits for him to walk up to the bench. “Hi, Bill, what are you up to?”

“I stopped by to see if you want to go to the drive-in with me tonight.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Mama won’t let me. I have to do my ironing.”

“Where is your mom?”

“She’s in the house starting supper. Why?”

Bill didn’t answer her because he was already through the screen door. He’s inside about five minutes. Sally can’t stand the suspense of wondering what he is up to, so she went inside. Bill is standing in the kitchen talking to Mona.

Bill gets a big smile on his face, “Your mom says you can do your ironing in the morning and go to the show with me. Isn’t that great?”

Sally’s eye’s cut to her mama’s and Mona’s head is bobbing up and down. Oh, god, I’m done for. Now what am I going to do? “Oh, that’s wonderful.”

“I’ll pick you up at 7:00. You should’ve eaten by then. The movie called Adam and Eve is on at the drive in. Your mom told me you’d wanted to see it.”

“Yeah, I wanted to see it, but I was going to wait until it was inside at the Okla.”

“Well, now you don’t have to wait. I’ll see you later.” He walks from the kitchen and out of the house.

“Mama, why did you do that?”

“I got tired of him asking me to take you out. So now, he can take you out and leave me alone. Now little girl you either shit or get off the pot”.

“Mama, what a thing to say.”

“You know exactly what I’m saying. You haven’t ever told him no. You keep making excuses. Now you can’t make any more excuses.”

Oh, my life is ruined.

***

Sally’s date shows at straight up 7:00. Her mom answers the door when he knocks. He comes into the living room and waits for Sally to finish getting ready. He and Mona have a nice conversation. Finally, Sally comes out. Bill’s eyes brighten when he sees her. “Wow, you look nice.”

“Thank you,” Sally says as Bill stands and they walk to the door together. He opens the door for her and she steps through. She walks down the walkway towards his car. He hurries and gets to the car door just as she reaches for it. “Here, I got that.” He opens the door and she slides in. Since this is a date, I guess I shouldn’t hug the door like I did last time. She consciously tries to relax.

Bill walks to his side of the car and gets in. He’s all smiles as he takes them to the drive-in in McAlester. He’s talking the entire time he’s driving. Sally smiles and nods her head a lot. She’ll answer his question if he asks one, but never starts talking.

Once he gets to the Drive-In and parks, he looks at Sally and asks. “Would you like to go to the concession stand and get a Coke and some popcorn?”

“Sure, can we sit on the swings until time for the movie to start.”

“You like to swing, do you?”

“Yes, I do. I like to go up high and let the wind blow my hair. It’s fun.”

“Okay, I haven’t been on a swing in a very long time.”

The two of them sit on the swings and drink their Coke. They decide not to get popcorn until the movie starts. Bill pushes Sally on the swing and she laughs.

“That’s a nice sound to hear. I haven’t heard you laugh since me, you and Jackie were running around together. I’ve missed your laugh.”

“Bill, isn’t it time for the show to start? We’d best get our popcorn and another drink and head for the car.”
Braking herself with her feet, Sally gets off the swing. They walk to the concession stand and then back to his car. He opens the door on his side of the car and Sally slides over. Bill gets in beside her and puts the speaker in the window.
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Sally wasn’t enjoying the movie at all. “I thought this would be a good movie, but it isn’t. It’s really overrated.”

“Yeah, it’s pretty bad. Do you want to go get something else to drink?”

“No thanks, let’s just go home. I’ve got to get up early in the morning to get my ironing done while it’s cool.”

“Oh, all right, home it is.” Bill removes the speaker and leaves the drive-in.

Pulling up in front of Sally’s home, Bill kills the engine on his car. He turns to Sally and takes hold of her right hand. Looking directly in her eyes, he says, ”Sally, I love you.”

Sally felt as if her lungs lost their air. She sputters “what!”

“I said I love you.”

“No you don’t!” Sally starts scooting to the passenger door and grabs the handle, opens the door and begins to get out of the car.

“Sally, don’t tell me how I feel. I love you and I have for a long time. Just think about it for a few days. You don’t have to say anything now.”

“Goodnight, Bill.”

“Night, Sally. Think about what I said.”

He starts the car and pulls away. Sally is speechless and doesn’t know what to think. This event is a total shock. Now what am I going to do?

Feet First (Short Story)

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Here is another one of my short stories that will be in my book called Shirley’s Short’s and Flashes.  Getting this new house done with the remodling is taking a big chunk of my time, so I hope you don’t mind my short stories.  Have a great evening.  Until next time.    Shirley

Feet First

Mrs. Tipton didn’t lock her door, but it wasn’t a problem. No one in the area locked their doors in 1985.  Scipio, Oklahoma wasn’t on a main road; the community sat fifteen miles north of highway 270 on a black top road. You had to be heading there know about the place.

The one-room store was the front room of an old house.  The other five rooms are where Mrs. Tipton lives.  The house had two bedrooms, kitchen, living room, and bathroom.  The old outhouse still stood out by the barn.  It was still used occasionally, if the electricity went out, since it shut off the pump for the water supply.  There was a beautiful red crepe myrtle bush in full bloom at this time of year.  Mrs. Tipton had planted the bush when she and her husband moved into their store/home, in 1930.

Built in 1929 the one-room store and home was clapboard with wood floors, and one room.  The outside front had two rock pillars holding up the covering for the two gas pumps.  The pumps were old enough you still went inside to pay for your gas.

Mrs. Tipton was not much on decorating, but she did believe in living clean and being comfortable.  Handmade quilts were on the chairs and couch.  The quilts had similar colors, but they didn’t match. They suited her taste and lifestyle well.

The quilting frame hung on the living room ceiling until last year.  Over the years, Mrs. Tipton  brought the frame down three times a week, to work on  her projects.  She made many a bed covering over the years, using that frame.  Sometimes her daughter would visit and help her quilt, but most of the time it would be just her.

She used to make butter, and sell it in the store, but she had to get rid of her Jersey cow, because she couldn’t milk her. Selling the cow and removing her quilting frame was emotionally difficult for Mrs. Tipton, but her arthritis was so bad; she couldn’t do the handwork she once did.

Tom, who was Mrs. Tipton’s husband of fifty-two years, died two months ago from a heart attack.  Mrs. Tipton’s world crashed around her after her husband died.  Being a strong countrywoman, with an even stronger faith, she buried her husband, and went back to running the store. Her son and daughter tried to convince her to close the store and move in with one of them.  She refused, and nothing said or done could change her mind.

She’s lived in the clapboard house, and ran the store for over fifty years. She told her children she wouldn’t leave her house until they carried her out feet first. Besides, everyone in town knew her.  If she needed anything, someone would help her.  The place wasn’t even locked up at night, because she felt so secure no one would bother her. In the fifty years of running the store, not a thing had left the store without permission.  She was proud of her little community, and the people who lived there.

When she and her husband first opened the store, they had a booming business. It took to long to get to McAlester by horseback or wagon, so almost all the store purchases made by the people of Scipio was at Tipton’s Grocery.  Over the years, business decreased due to better transportation.  It didn’t make the Tipton’s any difference. Scipio was their home, and they weren’t going anywhere. They just made the best of their situation.

Four months went by, with life as usual.  Mrs. Tipton got up at 6:00 AM every day and turned on the front lights, so everyone knew the store was open.  Every once in a while, someone would come in, and buy a coke and peanuts for the drive into work, or buy gas to get to work. Now bread and milk are sold most of the time. Kids bought lots of candy, and she always gave the “bad for your teeth” lecture, every time they bought it.  The kids thought she was a funny old woman, but everyone loved her.  On a late fall night, two boys drove past the store.  The lights were off, so the boys knew the store was closed for the night. These boys weren’t from Scipio. They’d been driving around, and accidentally found the community. They turned around and drove back by the store a couple of times, trying to decide if they were going to stop, and what they were going to do.  The two boys were high on cocaine, and they didn’t care about anything, except getting money to buy more dope.

They pulled up to the side of the grocery store slowly, with their lights off.  They didn’t want the gravel parking area to alert anyone they were around the house.  The lights being off gave the boys an easy opportunity to walk around and not be seen.  The road didn’t have any traffic on it, so interruptions by traffic wasn’t a problem.  Brain could jimmy a lock, so he went to the front door.  He removed the bell from the screen door, so it wouldn’t make any noise. He tried the doorknob, and to his surprise, the door opened.  He motioned to his friend to follow him, “come on Sam hurry up, and be quiet.  We need to find the cash register.”

“Brian, I don’t think this is a real good idea.  What if we get caught?”

“Shut up, we’re not going to get caught.  Besides I have my insurance with me”

They looked around in the dark for the cash register.  When they found it, and got the drawer opened, it made a loud digging noise. They hurriedly started stuffing the small amount they found into their pockets.  They had to get out of the store, before they were caught.

A light came on, and Mrs. Tipton stepped out into the hall, and called out, “Who’s there?”

Brain pulled a gun from his pocket and shot her.  He had no intention of going to jail. Mrs. Tipton immediately fell to the floor, with her life’s blood running out around her.

The boys, ran from the store, and drove away in their car.  No one knew about the robbery, or the shooting.  At 6:00 AM, the store lights didn’t come on. People drove by, curious about why the lights weren’t on. It was unusual, because they were on every morning, for as long as anyone in the community could remember.

One of the community women entered the store to get milk at 10:00 AM, and noticed the cash register open. She walked around the counter, and spotted Mrs. Tipton on the floor in a pool of blood.  She called 911 from her cell phone.

Tipton’s Grocery closed, and Mrs. Tipton left her home, feet first, just as she wished.

It’s Short Story Day (The Red Shoes)

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This short story is nonfiction, and I didn’t write it for sympathy. I wrote it because I wanted to share a taste of what it’s like to live with the disease of alcoholism. It affects millions every day all over the world.  It’s been around since man began making wine many thousands years ago.

Alcohol is as addictive as the meth being manufactured today, except it’s legal. We all know prohibition didn’t work and as far as I can tell the war on drugs isn’t working either.  What is the answer?

I hope you like my story of  The Red Shoes.

I had reached my limit. Leaving was the only option I had. Standing up from the chair, I looked at mama and walked into my bedroom. Retrieving my coat from the closet, a headscarf and the new pair of red loafers mama bought me when we went to town that morning. I didn’t know what to do, but I couldn’t stay at the house any longer. I may have only been twelve years old, but I knew he would hurt me if I stayed.

There was snow and ice on the back steps. When I stepped out, down I went to the ground. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt in the fall. Picking myself up, I began walking down the road. Where could I go? If I went to Bob and Eva’s, he might find me there. I decided to go to my Uncle Charles’s house, on the mountain. It was about four miles north west of where we lived, up in the hills.

We lived fifteen miles west of McAlester on Highway 270 at a community called Cabiness. We ran a small country grocery store and Texaco gas station, called Blevins Grocery. My parents purchased the place before we left California. Returning to the area where mom and dad were born and raised was important, especially for my mother.

The one room store was actually the front room of the house. It had been converted to a store long before my parents bought it. The house now had one bedroom and kitchen, living room and a closed in back porch with a large window that pulled out and up, and hooked to the ceiling. That’s where mom and dad slept. My room was in the middle of the house without windows. It had two doors, one going to the living room and the other to the back porch.

There was a well and pump house sitting on the west side of the house. That water well was the catalyst for my problem. The well was terrible. The water smelled like sulphur, and tasted rotten. It didn’t furnish enough water to run the household. If you did the dishes, you couldn’t take a shower, or if you flushed the commode you couldn’t do the dishes. It was a constant struggle. I would usually go to Bob and Eva’s house to take my bath and do my homework. I would spend the night there at least once a week.

The store and station opened at 6 am and closed at 9 pm. This particular evening we were slow closing. Dad just returned home from spending time at a bar in McAlester. He was in the living room sitting on the piano bench watching me like a hawk. My cousin rang the bell to let us know someone needed gas. I went out and pumped the gas, and while I was talking to Eva, we decided I would ask mom if I could go home with them to spend the night. I asked mom if I could go home with Bob and Eva, and she agreed. I began to gather my clothes and schoolbooks.

”What are you doing, Shirley”? My dad yelled.

I walked into the living room and told him “I am getting my stuff together to go spend the night with Bob and Eva so I can do my homework and take a bath”.

“You sit down in that chair because you’re not going anywhere.”

“Daddy, mama told me I could go”.

“I don’t give a damn what your mother said, you are not going. You go tell them to go on and then get your butt back in here.”

I walked out to their truck and told them daddy wasn’t going to let me go with them. I was angry, but I knew not to say anything more to dad. When I walked back into the living room, he told me to sit down in the chair. I was angry and hurt. I sat very still and quit, while he tried to pick a fight with me. When I didn’t respond he started yelling at me. There was a pair of pliers sitting on the piano I’d left there earlier in the day from doing something that I don’t remember now. The next thing I knew he picked up the pliers and threw them at my head. God was protecting me because he missed by about one and a half inches, knocking a hole in the wall. That’s when I knew I had to get away from him.

Since I decided to go to my uncle’s house, I began walking down the dirt road behind our house. It would take me up the mountain. I had my headscarf wrapped around my head, and was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt. I never wore socks, and I didn’t even think about my feet when I left the house. I’d walked about two miles when I stepped in an ice covered hole of water. I knew my feet would freeze if I didn’t do something. I took off my headscarf and using my teeth to start a tear, I managed to rip the scarf in two. I put a half in each one of my new, red shoes to help keep my feet warm. I continued walking down the middle of the road. If a car came down the road, I ran into the woods and hid until it passed. I wasn’t going to let him find me. I didn’t have any intention of ever returning to that house.

I finally made it to the top of the mountain. It was after 11:00 when I knocked on Charles’s door. My Aunt Jerry opened the door after I identified myself.

“What are you doing here this late? Where’s your mama?” Jerry asked.

I told her the story while I sat wrapped in a warm blanket drinking a cup of hot tea. “Jerry, where is Charles? I can’t live there anymore. I want to stay here.”

“Charles hasn’t come in from town. I guess he had a date tonight, but I know you will be able to stay here as long as you need to.”

We heard the truck drive up to the front of the house. Jerry told me to go to the barn and hide in the hay. I took off out the back door towards the barn. I was almost there when Jerry yelled, telling me it wasn’t daddy, and to come back to the house.

When I got back in the house, there sat mama with a neighbor of ours, Donnie Elliott. Mama began to cry. “I tracked you in the snow. I knew you would either come here or go to Bob’s house. I want you to come home.”

“I’m not coming back to that house. I hate him; he is not going to hurt me. I’ve begged you to make him leave, and you wouldn’t, so now I’ve left and I’m not going back. I’m going to stay here, and if I can’t stay here then I’m going to go back to California and stay with Jim and Bobbie.”

“Please, honey, come back home. I promise you, it will be different, and he won’t be there. Come with me now and spend the night with Donnie. You can stay with her until he leaves the house tomorrow.”

Donnie sat there nodding her head up and down as mama talked. I loved my mama, and I couldn’t bear watching her cry and listening to her begging me to come back home.

“All right, mama, I’ll come home if he’s not there.” I got my coat and put on my new red, now wet and covered in mud, shoes. Jerry had given me a pair of socks, so my feet wouldn’t freeze off. Donnie lived about a half mile from us on the dirt road behind the store building. Mama promised me again that daddy would be gone the next morning.

She kept her word, and he was gone. I came home, and I was happy with my life for once. I could bring a girlfriend to the house and not be afraid of what dad would say or do. It was a peaceful time for me. Mom didn’t do so well, but that is another story.

Alcoholism is a terrible, terrible disease. It doesn’t just destroy the one drinking, but his or her family as well. It took many years for me to forgive my father, but I did. He is 85 years old now, and mama is gone. He doesn’t remember a thing about the trauma he caused his family. He and mom reconciled a year later after he had stopped drinking. That lasted a year and then it started over. That doesn’t matter now. He is a good man with a good heart and I can say I love him very much. He is and always will be my daddy. I survived and so did he.

A Right of Passage

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Brittany

Today is a very big day for my youngest granddaughter.  She is thinking it is the greatest thing that has ever happened to her to this point in her life.  Finally she is going to be an independent young lady, not having to depend on mom and dad.  Have you figured it out?  She is taking her driving test today to get her license. It is a right of passage for most young people, at least in this country.

Being raised in the country, she learned to drive by riding on her Grandfathers lap and controlling the steering wheel.  Just as soon as her legs were long enough to reach the petals she could drive using the controls.  It was the same for me, as well as each of my children.  My son and myself were driving hay trucks just as soon as we could see over the steering wheel.

I can remember the feeling of excitement and how “big” I felt when I began driving.  I would drive on the highway when I was fourteen, but times were very different then.  There wasn’t as much traffic and the highway patrol never came out on 270. It’s not that way any more.

My granddaughter already has her first vehicle. A nice, small pickup, which she loves.  My first car was a 1954, four door, Ford, with a stick shift.  The floor board was rusted out (I kept losing shoes) and the heater didn’t work.  It was hell in the Oklahoma winters.  My girlfriend and I would go to McAlester, to a teen dance hall, called The Attic.  We’d be wrapped up in quilts with ice scrapers in hand.  Every once in a while if it was freezing, I’d stop the car and we’d jump out and scrap the ice from the windshield. Somehow I don’t see any of my grandchildren doing that.  For one thing I don’t believe there is a snowball’s chance my children would let them out on the road if there was a chance there might be ice.  Secondly, I think my grandchildren would not drive a car in the same condition mine was in back in the 60’s.  You know “those good ol’ days.

Times and conditions have changed, but not the right of passage for driving. Do you remember how you felt when  you  were able to get that license? It’s a wonderful time, it’s just a shame we have to grow up and deal with the world.

The Gangsters Gold (A short story, 2 parts)

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I wrote this story a few months ago, so I thought I would post it for your reading pleasure.  It is based on a fact and family legend.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  Please let me know if you have any suggestions or find problems.  I am dividing it because it is about 5,000 words in length.

The Ganster’s Gold

On a cold late fall evening, on January 10 1934, a black Ford pulled into the alley behind the Bank of Oklahoma in McAlester.  The car sat idling while three men thought about what brought them to this point in time.  John Connely, the hometown fellow, Ted Simms from Bartlesville and Charles Aurthur, from Wellsville Ohio were banded together for this job.

Charles was a McAlester native also, and had many friends in the McAlester area.  He had given a lot of thought about sharing
this information with his two new friends, but decided against it.  The less they knew about Charles Aurthur, the better off he would be, but almost as important, they would be better off also.

They had been staying close to the bank the last three weeks, watching how the system worked and how closely the guards paid attention to what was going on around the bank.  The guard spent most of his time flirting with the skirts, which came through the door, so he was no threat to their plan.  It didn’t take Arthur long to see the type of system used for vault security.  He was feeling more and more confident, because he knew this lock system well.  It is the same system on the bank in Wichita Kansas.  The job at that bank was only four months ago so everything was still fresh in his mind.

During the three weeks, the three “so called” friends were staying at the Hyway Lodge, just on the south side of town.  John and Ted shared a room, but Charles had one to himself.  He was quite the loner and only associated with people when he had to.  He often thought how strange it was because he made friends very easily, and got along with everyone he met.  He was an  extraverted, introvert.  He was also a conglomerate of how his world made him, and he really didn’t mind playing either role when it was required.  Just the same, he preferred to be alone in his world.  It seemed to give him more peace.  In his line of work, peace was a commodity in short supply.

In the evenings, they would sit in Charles’s room and make their plans.  The group had decided to have four cars involved in their get-away.  They each had a car in town, but needed another if the escape plan was to work.  Early in the day of January tenth, each of the men drove their car to Calvin, which is about 30 miles west of McAlester on Highway 270.  John, the hometown boy, had an uncle living just south of Calvin, He made arrangements for the three cars to be left at the uncle’s house overnight.  John told his Uncle Clarence, he had a job, because of the travel distance. The three men decided to meet in one place, so each could head home when their work was over. John did not know how long the job would last so the three parked their cars away from the house so if they arrived back in the middle of the night, the family wouldn’t be disturbed.  Uncle
Clarence did not think anything odd about this arrangement, since the economy of the times often required men to travel a distance from where they lived, in order to get work.

The three men walked back up the road, after saying their goodbyes to the uncle and his family.  Each man was lost in his own thoughts, and not talking to one another for the entire walk to the cars.  They knew their life would to be changing.  John and Ted thought how their world was going to be wonderful after the getaway and a cooling down time.  They would have the money to leave Oklahoma, and start a new life.  Charles knew what kind of life they were going to have, because he had been living it for the past year.  His mind constantly having to stay alert, paying attention to details going on around him.  If he had noticed anything out of the ordinary or just having a bad feeling, he wouldn’t waste time, and leave the area as quickly as possible.  The life of a wanted man was no picnic by any stretch of the imagination.  This little piece of knowledge was not going to be shared with his two comrades.  Let them enjoy their thoughts while they could.  This one job, would change their world, just as his world changed.

The decision to wait for the Greyhound bus on Highway 270, to take them back to McAlester was an easy one.  They looked like any other person waiting for the bus to town.  The bus ride was uneventful, and they arrived just as planned at the bus depot on Main and Cherokee.  It was just getting dusk when they arrived and had to use up some time until midnight.  They decided they would just walk back to their motel and get some rest.  They had a long night ahead of them.  The decision was made, on their walk back to the motel, to checkout at different times to help cut down on suspension.  This really didn’t make much sense to Charles but he went along with it because there really wasn’t anything else to do.

They checked out an hour apart heading different directions but would meet up at the Hilltop Bar and Grill.  The Hilltop was a hole in the wall bar, which was run by the town’s so called gangster, Angelo Perez.  Mr. Perez was the type of fellow who liked to
flash his money, gamble on the horses and carry a big stick to knock heads with, if he thought it was necessary.  It was the perfect spot to kill time, and have a couple of Crown Royal’s with Coke, and not be bothered.  That is, if you keep a low profile and don’t get involved in anyone else’s business.

About ten until midnight, Mr. Perez said he was leaving because he had an errand to run uptown.  Charles asked if Mr. Perez would give him a ride to the bus station.  Perez must have been feeling charitable because he agreed.  He and Charles went outside to the garage where a large black shiny Cadillac was parked.  Charles was told to wait there while Perez pulled the car out of the garage.  He motioned for Charles to get in the front seat beside him.  Charles opened the door and set down in the leather seat.  He was thinking this was odd because Perez didn’t let anyone ride in the front seat with him.  The drive to the bus station didn’t take long.  Charles looked at Perez and said “thank you for the lift”.  He opened the door and started to step out and Perez smiled and said, “anytime Pretty Boy”.  The car door was closed and Perez drove off, leaving behind his Oklahoma dust.  Little did Charles Aurthur know but he was given part of his nick name.

McAlester was very quiet on this Tuesday night.  Charles made his way back up main street headed for Grand Boulevard.
He knew the Geovonne Car Lot was sitting right on the corner which made it easily assessable.  The group had
decided Charles would get them a nice car using a little bit of ingenuity.  He found a 1933 Plymouth with a good heater
and radio. It did not take long to get it hot-wired, and he headed back to the Hilltop to pick up the other two guys.

John and Ted were sitting in the a booth placed so they both could watch the front door while they sipped on their drinks. Even keeping a low profile, they had enjoyed themselves that evening. Each one told about their life, and some of the funny stories which happened to them or someone else they knew.    The front door opened and there stood Charles , so they knew their relaxing evening was over.  They both got up and headed out the door.  Charles pointed to get into the red Plymouth parked at the door.  Connely, got behind the wheel since he was the driver.  Each one was hoping no one was looking outside so they could not describe what car the three men drove off in.

The time had arrived and all was running according to plan.  Simms was in charge of getting into the bank, since he had experience doing that sort of thing. Connely, the snot nosed kid and look out, was going to keep the car running to aid in the escape plan. Aurthur, was the vault man who would get in and get out as quickly as possible.  They had everything timed out to the second.

They pulled up behind the bank and Connely jumped out first with his bag of tools. He had used his week to scout out the alarm system, and how to shut it off at the outside of the building.  Since his brother was an electrician he had helped John learn the job of electrical work.  It didn’t take him long to disconnect the system and head for the door.  In under 3 minutes he had disconnected the alarm and had the door opened for Charles and himself to get inside.  With bags in hand, they headed for the bank vault.  John swiftly disconnected the door alarm and Charles worked the dial with his stethoscope.  In another minute the safe door was open and not an alarm sounded.

The safe was loaded with money, but they decided to only go for the $50.00 and under bills since they would be the easiest to get rid of.  They loaded three sacks and headed out the door.  Charles was sure a security office would be making night rounds and discover the back door open.  He would be making his rounds in about 15 minutes and that would be their head start.

Once outside Charles got in the front seat and Ted in the back.  They headed west on Grand Avenue driving at normal speed.
They didn’t want to draw attention to themselves by speeding.  They felt a little more secure once they had made it out to Wet Prairie without hearing sirens coming up behind them.  They knew it would only be a matter of minutes before the robbery would be discovered.  John put his foot to the accelerator of the red Plymouth and headed for Calvin. John would slow his speed as he went though the little towns of Arpelar, Cabiness, and Stuart.  He just kept thinking no speeding because of the town constables.  Past Stuart he had fifteen miles to go to Calvin.  He drove like a madman up the hills and around the curves.  He made it almost to his uncles and Charles told him to pull into a thicket of trees and kill the engine.  They each gapped a sack,
containing their loot, and headed on foot to his uncle’s house.  They did not want to leave the car there because that would have his uncle involved in the bank robbery and because of his family, that could just not happen.  They had about a mile to walk before they got to their cars.

The walk to the cars was done in complete silence.  Each man was thinking of his escape route and what would need to be done.  Each man was going to go his own way with approximately $50000.00 dollars more or less.  Since they didn’t stop to count their money, each got what was in the bag they were carrying.  Charles decided he was going to ditch his car as soon as possible and head into the Kiamichi mountains on horseback.  He had a friend that had a cattle ranch up in the hills who would give him a place to stay for a couple of days.  This would give him some time to decide what he was going to do.  Besides no one would think he would stay in the area.  Ted was going to head north and try to make it to Canada and John decided he was going to head south for Mexico.