Everything about our visit with Willie Simpkins surprised me.
We felt we were too far into the Cromwell countryside to find someone, but there was a home that beckoned us. No one looked home when we pulled into Willie’s driveway, but he answered the door. And although his face looked like “no” was the inevitable answer to our key question, he said yes.
The dogs with chains tethered to their collars appeared ominous, but they were full of puppy ambition and eager to play. Willie’s home had seen better days. The brittle remnants of exterior paint could have been flicked off with a gentle brush of the hand. But his above average intelligence appeared to have been well maintained; he wielded a hefty vocabulary.
By the empty beer cans around his porch, Miller Lite was clearly his drink of choice but when offered a New Zealand hard cider with elder flowers, he thoughtfully partook and considered the flavors as we talked.
Although he was seated in a wheelchair, Willie was raising cattle and sveltely rolled his chair right across the grass when calling his horses up to the fence.
Chapters of Willie’s life story could have been framed as tragic, but he was quick with a joke and proclaimed, “I’m still kickin’, just not as high.”
When Rachel and I left Willie’s home that day, I felt changed. A man who loved to tell them had given us the gift of stories, and we can now pass on a few on to you.
Maybe you’ll feel changed too.
Note: Cromwell is located just south of I-40 between Shawnee and Henryetta. The historical information below our video is fascinating. Happy reading!
Cromwell Wiki and history – fascinating!
Cromwell Oklahoma history archival document – more insight (“Cromwell, the Wicked!”)
4 thoughts on “EPOTM: Cromwell, OK (or Willie Simpkins and the Board of Education)”
Thanks for this video of my dad, he is truly a one of a kind, incredible man. I gain so much knowledge & wisdom from his stories. There’s never a dull moment with him. MS
Shonell – I’m SO glad you found this work. He IS one of a kind – exactly as you said…incredible. Thank you SO much for commenting here. Take care, RDK
I sure do envy you for doing this. Great story, great fella……..Thanks!
Rick – so grateful that you check out our journeys. Willie IS a great fella. So are you! – RDK
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