Today I’m going to tell you a story about my dad. It came to my mind when someone a couple of days ago blogged about thier mother not cooking wild meat.
My mother and father lived about four miles north of highway 270 west of McAlester, Oklahoma on land where my great grandparents lived. There is a quarter mile drive off the main road to their house. When mama was a little girl her and her grandfather planted a pine tree at the corner of the main road and the drive. That pine tree remains alive and well to this day.
Back in the 1980’s my dad worked at the Navy Ammunition Plant at Haywood as a truck driver and forklift operator. He drove on and off the mountain at least five days a week. Mom would pack a lunch for him every day, which he would put in the refrigerator at the work office.
Everyday someone would get into the lunches in the refrigerator and eat things out of people’s lunch sacks. They thought they knew who the fellow was, but they couldn’t prove it. Everyone was frustrated with this guy.
One evening when dad was coming home, he got to the pine tree and thought there was a big limb in the road. He opened the truck door and that big limb coiled. Having a pistol under the seat he proceeded to shoot and kill a seven and a half foot diamond back rattler. He brought it to the house and skinned it out. Mom took the back bone meat and cut it into chunks and fried it. That’s what they ate for dinner that night. My sister said it was good eating and tasted a lot like chicken.
My dad decided he would take some to work the next day for his lunch. He never told a soul about killing the snake or what he had for lunch. He put it in the refrigerator as he always did and went out to the docks to unload a truck. Noon rolled around and all the guys were sitting at the table eating. Daddy’s lunch had been gotten into and about half of the meat had been eaten.
Dad began talking and telling the guys about the big rattlesnake he had killed the night before and how mom had cooked it up for him. He even brought some for his lunch. Dad said the man accross from him, who happened to be the man who they thought was getting into the lunches, choked on his food. His color turned pasty white and then he turned green and had to leave the room. They could hear him retching outside and all knew he was throwing his toenails up.
Everyone had a great laugh and guess what else. No one’s lunch was ever robbed again. The man got cured.
Daddy had that snake skin mounted and it hung over their television set for over twenty years. He would still laugh when he told that story about his big snake.
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
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.
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.
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.