Kim Kidder, Kidderville, and McKiddeyville: EPOTM…somewhere…

The following account contain facts of my best recollection regarding our search for McKiddeyville, Oklahoma:

We had just completed our discussion with Ray Newton on his small porch in Lexington and were packing up for our next stop. Destination: McKiddeyville.

Unfortunately, our GPS system kept telling us McKiddeyville was about one block off the downtown Lexington proper.  We got out our map and realized McKiddeyville didn’t even exist on the official EPOTM map, but it had been specially requested by a donor. So, we forged onward.

My frequent solution to glean information about a wide variety of small town topics is to visit the local police or fire departments, the court, or some other community institution.  And, we spied the police department first, located in an old street-front office that could have been a drug store or barbershop 100 years earlier.

As I entered their domain, four sets of police officer eyes locked with mine.

I’m bound by the parameters of this project to be as straight with you as possible, so I think it’s probably important for you to understand that I’ve never seen four more hefty men, uniform buttons straining at all possible junctures, occupy such a small area in my life.  Their kindness and willingness to help, however, matched the size of their girth.  I received no less than ten minutes of detailed instructions on how to get to McKiddeyville.  And, for purposes of this narrative I’m going to share exactly what they said:

  1. Go south six miles until you see the helicopter;
  2. Turn west and go two miles;
  3. When you get to that intersection, or thereabouts, you’re in the area they understand to be McKiddeyville.

Now I’m going to share the flaw with these instructions: there was no helicopter.

We traveled south eight miles just to be sure. Then we traveled back north again thinking that perhaps we could have missed the HELICOPTER that was supposed to be parked by the highway in broad daylight.  All three of us agreed after the third pass that this helicopter didn’t exist.  So, we began counting the mile markers on our GPS until we found what we identified as the appropriate “six mile turn,” helicopter or no, then headed west.

Note: The following was posted from our EveryPointOK Twitter feed about the time all this was happening…

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The first man we found looked to be a local who had lived on a small farm his whole life…mowing his yard, dog trotting at his side.  However, he knew nothing about the area.  He had just retired and purchased “this hobby farm to keep him busy.”

The next person we found can only be described because I happen to be a licensed therapist.  Approximately two miles northwest from Hobby Farm Man, we pulled into her driveway. The clan of dogs seemed friendly enough and she looked busy doing something in the yard, so I approached with a friendly wave.

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As I got closer, the property occupant appeared to to be a middle-aged female, approximately 40-55, with red hair braided into pigtails.  The pigtail on her left almost reached her waist; the one on the right dangled just below her chin line.

Although engaging, her behavior was what can only be described as hyper-paranoid and occasionally schizophernic. She wasn’t interested in being on camera, but as the conversation developed, I learned that she had “been celibate 18 years because she was writing a novel.”

Her book, she said, was about “your inner deity” and she “receives messages through the internet from celebrities who are aware of her project, but are too timid to admit publicly that they believe in her topic.”  Rather, she explained, they send her photographs, most of the time on Facebook, with small encoded messages in the lower corners.

This is where the story began to get interesting.  Evidently, each celebrity – she mentioned that she talks frequently with Russell Crowe and 24 other movie stars – has a small signature code.  When she spies these encryptions, she clicks on the images, and then is taken to a location on the web where she picks up the next clues as to what she should be writing in her book. She is sworn to secrecy by this celebrity panel of advisors, but when her novel is finished, she will be vindicated because it will transform so many lives.

She also mentioned that the last time her son visited her, he thought she was a little crazy.

Because she wasn’t interested in being our McKiddeyville participant, she suggested we visit a friend of hers down the road in “Kidderville.”  His name was “Kim Kidder, and he and his brothers all live in the same area…that’s why it’s called ‘Kidderville.'”

I thanked her, backed away from the red-haired author, and we went on our way.

Kim Kidder’s home was exactly where she had described it…which made me wonder if someday, a “transformative novel” will also be published, ghost written by Tom Cruise among others,  and quash any doubt I had about the two-lengthen braided wonder.

I knocked on Kim Kidder’s door twice before he answered by cracking the door ever-so-slightly and asking who had come calling; he “couldn’t open the door because he wasn’t wearing any clothes.”

Great.

So, I explained our project. He then said his hair didn’t look very good.

So, I then told him that the person who sent us there assured he was so entertaining I doubted his hair was that big of a deal.

That last plea seemed to seal the deal.  The door closed, I heard him moving around in the house, and within a couple of minutes out walks Kim Kidder, wearing a hat to hide his hair, with beer, wine and coffee in tow.  Evidently “the French had taught him to drink all three together in order to stay balanced.”

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At that point, I knew our red-headed wonder was also right about Kim Kidder.  I’m going to buy multiple copies of her book.

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We hope you enjoy this small video glimpse (below) of Kidder and our discussion with him.

Peace out ~ Red Dirt Kelly

Every Point Podcast #1: Ray Newton of Lexington on His History with Racism in Oklahoma

Today’s podcast features a man we met drinking coffee on his porch one Sunday morning named Ray Newton. Ray starts his story by sharing how it was that he decided to enter the Air Force and about fighting in the 1968 Tet Offensive. Most of his narrative, however, centers around his history with racism in Oklahoma, and how he has reconciled what he experienced with what he now knows.

This podcast is comprised of almost our complete discussion with Ray, edited only for wind noises or non-relevant banter. As you listen, we hope you can picture yourself sitting on Ray’s porch with us and enjoying his morning chat.

“Better to Say He Ran Away Than to Say There He Lay'” ~ EPOTM: Lexington, OK

On a clear Sunday morning, our Every Point OK team took a right turn somewhere off Main Street in Lexington. Two blocks later we cruised by a small, white home and spied Ray Newton on his porch drinking coffee. Bright sunlight washed over his serene repose.

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Decision-making conversations never really stop when we’re on our project runs. Most of these discussions center around what type of participants we need “on our next stop” to balance all those perspectives we’ve collected previously.

Occasionally someone unfamiliar with our work will respond to me after hearing the details with exclamations of, “Cool!” or “How fun would THAT be?” I think, in some ways, the focus of what we do is first introduced simply by the idea of a ten-year-long road trip.  “Road trip” being a concept generally associated with “fun.”

From my perspective, however, it’s nothing like that.  Although I will say that Rachel quite frequently pulls me out of the “serious-funk-must-keep-true focus” I tend to myopically fixate upon by reminding me that we are, indeed, on a road trip of sorts.

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As we cruised by Ray’s home, however, I had been funkishly mulling over the population with whom we spoke the previous day. Four stops on Highway 9 had provided us with four perspectives of “family,” and two of them were young to mid-range parenting views. And, most all were – to some degree – white middle class.  So Ray, basking in the morning sun, with his snowy hair and dark skin offered the difference I was seeking.  He readily agreed to speak with us, and although a family member suspiciously peeked her head out of the door more than once, he kept right on talking…

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…through his upbringing, his choice to enter the Air Force because he couldn’t afford college, the lessons he learned from people and cultures world wide, and lessons from his father here in Oklahoma.

When he was done, I shared with Ray that he had learned through his life as much, or more, than I had learned with three college degrees. And, that he was a teacher of philosophy, regardless of not being able to attend Langston like he had wished. The spontaneous smile that immediately spread across his face was a reward for my remarks I won’t quickly forget.

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We’ll share Ray’s story in two ways.  The first is through this post with Rachel’s photos, and a video produced by April Kirby and her intern, originally completed for our Ten Percent Show.   The second will be through a podcast deployed in a separate post tomorrow.

This stop was completed six months ago. I hope Ray Newton is doing well. ~ KMR

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Photos of April providing Ray’s balding head with a ponytail wig, and Rachel hanging out across the street from his home:

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EPOTM: Fay, OK – “Unincorporated Community Pulls Off Annual Christmas Miracle”

We pulled into the Fay school parking lot just as some of the last cars were leaving; a few people lingered, “to go” meals in their hands, in order to finish their conversations before saying goodbye.  Lunch was over, and as we entered the double doors we could hear Senior Citizens Center volunteers in the kitchen cleaning up.

There are at least five and possibly six separate stories we could write over our stop in the southeast corner of Dewey County. Legend, verified by some facts and newspaper articles, tells of a young bank robber who killed at least two people in the town grocery store while trying to escape; he was eventually captured because those in pursuit followed his trail of blood drops across the snow.

Veterans frequent the center, and one man in particular takes care to honor them with hand-built shelves on the back wall for photographs and flags.

Aging Oklahomans travel from close towns, and even from Oklahoma City, to come eat at the thriving senior lunch; the volunteers take exceptional care of their school-turned-community center, and the kitchen at the heart of the building.

And, although two churches remain in Fay, located at opposite ends of the township area, all funerals of those in the area are held in the school’s gymnasium so everyone in attendance can have a seat.

But those aren’t the stories we’re going to share. Rather, we’re going share with you about how a Christmas tradition has been kept up for years after the last school in Fay closed.  And, Janice Stinson is just the right narrator for this Oklahoma Christmas story.

Field notes: Thanks to April Kirby for shooting these video files. Our EPTOM team is now back to just two; Rachel and I finished a run to the Medicine Park area this past weekend. It’s been right at two years since we began ramping up for our Kickstarter fundraiser, and in March of this year we’ll celebrate our “two years from our pilot run” date…crazy.  Production-wise, we’re only 2-3 stops from rolling out our Highway 9 run, then will turn our attention briefly to Yukon, then on to the Picher-Cardin area.  So many stories, so many kind, unique, resilient, funny, sometimes weird, and always interesting people.

Peace and good will, Kelly Roberts & Rachel Apple

all photos taken by Rachel Apple

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The message on the chalkboard cracked us up. (reads: “My teacher is a loser.”) Ha ha…

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Rachel Apple, clowning around on the stage in the gym. The same gym where the Christmas program is held, and community funerals are conducted.
Rachel Apple, clowning around on the stage in the gym. The same gym where the Christmas program is held, and community funerals are conducted.

EPOTM: A Real Santa Claus in Cache, OK

‘Lil Mama’s Cafe was warm.

With red walls and trim, a printed Christmas scene curtain hanging on a rod, and a decorated spruce surrounded with Angel Tree gifts donated by community members…the setting was a stark contrast to the wild, open drive across the Wichita National Park we had just completed. Rachel and I talked quietly, eating oatmeal and planning our day.

However, fate had taken care of the planning for us.

Already full of Christmas Spirit from our previous evening in Medicine Park, we discovered that Santa was drinking coffee at the table next to ours!  And, after a brief bout of cajoling from our waitress and the Cafe’s owner who was also his daughter, we sat with Mike Carrick and learned three things: 1) Santa is real; 2) Santa serves many functions for children, depending upon their situation or needs; and, 3) being Santa is a higher calling that I had imagined.

Merry Oklahoma Christmas to you and yours…

Kelly Roberts and Rachel Apple ~Every Point on the Map project

 

Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.