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