Last night’s football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Texas A & M Aggies was bizarre. It was mayhem. The players and the fans alike, on both sides, went through an emotional roller coaster and the ride ended somewhere in the Tricky Hall of Mirrors…people were still reaching out to test reality as they led themselves out of the stadium. Confused, elated, exhausted…or in the Aggies’ case, beaten. And in the Cowboys’ case – at least this time – celebrating.
As I was riding home last night I started thinking about the superheros who contributed to the OSU win. I think the tuba section in the band gets at least one vote; they took the Three Dog Night hit, Never Been to Spain (You know… “I’ve never been to heaven, but I’ve been to Oklahoma; Oh they tell me I was born there…), two extra verses during a national TV timeout and had most everyone in the audience singing along by the time they finished.
The players get three votes. One lost the rest of the season to a knee injury. One played on no sleep because his baby girl was in the hospital the night before. The defense probably gets four votes because they played against 106 snaps…the game was an extra-long grueling mess for those boys. But this morning, when I think back to what helped me get through the game, five personal votes go to the kid in the orange cape.
I’ve seen him there before. He’s the kid who sends his eyeglasses into all sorts of contortions by sticking both fingers in his ears when Pistol Pete shoots his shotgun before the game. Obviously he doesn’t like loud noises. But last night I think he saved my husband from at least two cases of hyperventilation and possibly one cardiac arrest by just doing what he did all night long. The kid pretend-flew. He twirled around and around. And around some more. Sometimes he leaned over the handrails and actually watched the game. And, he ran up and down the stairs so that his cape would go flying behind him like a big orange banner.
The kid was Super Cool.
Nothing phased him. And he completely distracted the convulsing adult fan base at just the right times. Last night he was my hero, and this morning I’m giving him my Friday morning post.
Here’s to you, Super Cool. May the wind beneath your cape take you around your pretend world over and over again.
by Joey Rodman
I’ve always wanted to be part of a flash mob. “Always” meaning since the first time I saw a video of one on the internet.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the phrase “flash mob” could sound more than a little intimidating. And in fact, they can be. Here is a video of the mob that first caught my attention (CLICK PHOTO TO VIEW VIDEO):
I saw the video two years ago. And subsequently, for two years (which apparently translates into “always” in my brain) I have wanted to be part of a flash mob.
I had no idea how to go about becoming part of one. I’ve never really sought out the opportunity. “Did anyone do something like that here in Oklahoma?” I wondered. Of course not. My self-talk always hit a brick wall and I’d move on to other more tangible thoughts.
On Wednesday morning of last week I opened the browser on my computer completely unsuspecting…and then it happened. Someone had invited me to be in a flash mob. I clicked the link to the Facebook event not really knowing what to expect. Very few details were on the page. The invitation provided the day and time, and that was all.
Did I want to RSVP? Yes. Could I? Should I? These questions were harder to answer. I didn’t know where to begin. I began to go through “the checklist;” it’s a little bit like momma autopilot – you can’t really even think about committing to anything without going through the checklist first.
Would I get arrested? Probably not.
If I get arrested, will the other moms stop talking to me? Maybe.
Well, close enough. I clicked the little button and now I was “attending” as far as Facebook was concerned. I was the seventh person to RSVP and once I did, more details showed up. They wanted 150 people. I couldn’t decide if this was good or not. That’s a LOT of people and a little more than intimidating. I calmed myself by thinking “Well, I’m only number seven. Maybe they won’t get enough to participate.” But by the end of the day they had nearly one hundred people signed up. The flash mob was going to happen.
On Saturday morning I found out where I was going but still didn’t know what I was doing. For someone who is a planner down to the bone, this was getting uncomfortable. I recruited my husband to go with me. Surely he would keep me out of trouble, although the thought entered my mind that if we get arrested together nobody will be around to bail me out. I start to wonder if Kelly would be a good person to call from jail. Maybe I could blame this whole ordeal on the blog.
“I wanted to write you a good story…for The Red Dirt Chronicles,” I would start, and wait to gauge the tension of the pause after my soft start-up.
Maybe blaming this on her wasn’t the best approach. I decided that she would definitely be the one to call from jail, however, and I began making what little plans I could.
Saturday night I got the info on “the where, when, and what.” We were going to be at the State Fair…all 150 or so of us, and we were going to fall asleep. I felt like a secret agent. Under my shirt I had the “reveal” shirt they had distributed to us. Our instructions were to fall asleep for 5 minutes, wake up, then take off our top shirts revealing that we were all in the same group. Sounded simple.
I got to the fair, grabbed my special t-shirt and jostled around in the porta-potty trying to put it on – taking great precautions not to allow MY shirt OR my purse touch ANYTHING. This is way easier said than done. You’ve been in a porta-potty, right?
Once I exited the stinky, stinky porta-potty, we walked around for a while when it hit me: Falling asleep…how to you stay asleep for 5 minutes on the midway?! What was I going to do? Five minutes started to sound like a long time…but maybe it was worth it. Maybe.
I got to the pre-appointed place and sat on the curb talking to my husband. I looked around trying to figure out who else was going to do it. I knew that once I was asleep I couldn’t watch anything, and since everyone had their own shirt on over their “secret” shirt…everyone looked normal.
I was part of a group, but not part of a group.
I noticed a few people I had seen while I was receiving my shirt from the coordinator. I covertly nodded in their direction…and they nodded back. I was beginning to feel more at ease; at least I wasn’t the only one doing it. Then I started feeling something else. The alarm on my cell phone was buzzing -it was time to sleep.
I leaned over onto my husband’s shoulders and we slept. I dared not peek, but I could hear the reactions of those around me.
“What is going on here?”
“Is she dead?”
“Oh, there’s a HUNDRED OF THEM!”
“Don’t eat the fried twinkies!!!”…
and, “I wonder what would happen if I tazed one.”
Trying not to react I began focusing on my leg, waiting for it to buzz. Waiting. Waiting. A kid walked up to me – I could feel a human being beside us, but I didn’t look. A kid voice said, “Mom, I think she’s sleeping.” And then the second step happened; my alarm went off again. It was time to wake up. I sat up, rubbed my eyes and revealed my blue shirt. I looked around. There were a LOT of blue shirts. I felt like part of something important…and silly. Mostly silly.
Suddenly I was an instant celebrity. Okay, maybe not so much. Lots of people came up to me (read 3 or 4) and asked what happened. One woman said she began to panic until she realized a lot of people were sleeping and then she was just confused.
The cops showed up, the cameras came out, and the people around us laughed a little. That was the end. All this over 5 minutes of confusion and a few funny comments. The whole process was fun, and then it was over.
If you want to be in a flash mob, email me. I know about one next month. We won’t, however, be sleeping this time.
Tradition matters to me. Maybe it’s because I don’t like change, or maybe I just like knowing what to expect. Christmas Eve is a big one. I want the same routine every year. Get dressed for church and sit in the living room by the tree eating cookies we decorated. Listen to music while sipping sparkling cider. Pile into the Suburban, drive around looking at Christmas lights then off to candlelight service at 11. Open presents Christmas morning. From this there must be no deviation or it simply isn’t Christmas.
I’m not sure when it started or how it happened, but yelling “SOONERS” instead of the word “brave” at the end of the national anthem, has become a tradition in Norman. Most OU fans probably didn’t pay much attention to the lyric change until last weekend. With the Air Force Academy coming to Owen Field, Bob Stoops asked the Sooner faithful to not only cheer for the Falcons when they entered the stadium but to break tradition and sing the word “brave” out of respect to the young men serving our country. The previous Saturday, the ninth anniversary of 9/11, the school made the same request to fans, only to hear “SOONERS” drown out any bold enough to say “brave.”
I’ve been in that stadium and trust me, there’s something powerful about hearing “SOONERS” spring from the throats of 85,000 people. I never thought much of it; just a small part of the OU gameday experience. There is way too much political correctness in this country. But there is a time for reflection and sensitivity and I think that time is now Sooner fans.
No matter where you’re from or what football team you support, I believe you are an American first and a citizen of your state second. College football isn’t just an Oklahoma thing, or a Texas thing, or an Arkansas thing. It’s an American thing. It’s part of our sports identity as Americans.
Now ask yourself, “What allows me to be here on this gorgeous fall Saturday? What allows me to tailgate, wear what I want, scream like an idiot when it goes our way and mope when it doesn’t? What allows me to bring my son or my daughter to this place for the very first time and share with them the magic of a football Saturday? Simply stated, what allows me to be a fan?”
The answer is blood. The same answer for why we enjoy so many spectacular freedoms in this country. Blood shed around the world and here at home, by men and women who sacrificed to make America the great country it is today. “Brave” isn’t just a word that closes out a catchy tune. It means someone left home, left their family, voluntarily went into harms way and paid the ultimate price for you. I’m guilty of going through the motions with the national anthem. Let’s get the game going already. But a little reflection on its words goes a long way toward changing my attitude.
The fans who choose to say “SOONERS” aren’t being intentionally disrespectful. They’re not going out of their way to diminish the anthem or try to make some kind of statement. They’re red-blooded, patriotic Americans, embracing a tradition. However, sometimes tradition needs to be put aside. Can’t you still get chills from tens of thousands yelling “brave” instead of “SOONERS?” I’d hope so. Cutting out the “SOONERS” doesn’t make you less of an OU fan. Come on, nobody is mistaking you for a neutral party when you’re decked in crimson from head to toe and you’re wearing a schooner hat.
Plus, there are plenty of perfectly good traditions already in place. The drum major strutting his way across the field. The giant Oklahoma flag and the way the P.A. announcer says, “It’s footbaaallll tiiime in Okkk-la-homaaaaaa!” There’s the singing of the alma mater, and the video that declares, “There’s only one Oklahoma.” One side of the stadium chanting “Boomer” and the other side screaming “Sooner.” You’ve got Ruf-nex firing shotguns, a pretty girl in a covered wagon, and that moment when you’re team finally takes the field. How much more fired up do you need to get? If you still insist on yelling “SOONERS” why not do it at the end of the Oklahoma state song?
We’re only sayin’, you’re doin’ fine Oklahoma! Oklahoma, O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A, Oklahoma!…SOONERS!.
Sing it in your head. It works – believe me.
Old habits die hard, Sooner fans. This is the right thing to do. After all, new traditions have to start somewhere.
Good morning friends. Today’s RDC Friday morning shout out goes to Bob Waldrop, co-founder and long-time president of the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. We’re working on a full length essay about his life growing up in Oklahoma, his teenage journey to California and subsequent sojourning to Utah, Kansas City and ultimate return to his Oklahoma homeland. We hope to have the completed piece out for you next week. I sat with him for two hours during our interview and felt like we had just scratched the surface of who this man is, and the capacity he has to love those around him.
Bob has a dedicated and passionate mission to connect the citizens of our great state with each other in order to build a community network of wholesome, organic and locally grown or produced food: Producers and consumers working together to build sustainable and satisfying, relational food systems not easily interrupted by more national events or various wrinkles in the larger systems.
You go, Bob Waldrop! Thanks for all you do…we look forward to sharing our full-length essay about you and your work very soon!
P.S. Remember…Rob will be treating you with a sports essay around noon today. His last essay on Kevin Durant’s character received an especially high readership. And, speaking of readership…THANK YOU to WordPress.Com for featuring the RDC in their “Freshly Pressed” section yesterday. Like I shared with our author group and FB friends: Who knew barf bags could be so interesting? Take care – and have a great weekend!
Red Dirt Kelly
Photos of OSU fans taken during Oklahoma State University football game day have been compiled into a RDC slide show for your enjoyment. We even have one shot of a University of Tulsa couple dressed in their game day gear. We hope to have a University of Oklahoma football game day presentation before the end of the season as well. This past Saturday was, indeed, a good day in Stillwater.
Our “Relationships” entry will be released around noon today. Enjoy!
CLICK PHOTO TO BEGIN SLIDE SHOW
I’ve had a pair of “his and hers” bright canary yellow satin Western shirts in a picture frame on my wall since my mom gave them to me as a housewarming gift in 2006. Odd gift, right? They belonged to my great grandparents.
With the help of a few black and white pictures and a phone call, pieces of the story have slowly come together over the years. My great grandparents participated in a rodeo club around Minco, Oklahoma in the 1950’s. They rode in parades and rodeos in small towns around the state. At some point, they were too old to ride, so the horses were probably sold. It has been said that my great grandmother kept her custom-made saddle carefully hidden under her bed, a reminder of a special time in her life. The saddle was one of her last memories of the horse it belonged to before she finally sold it too.
The pictures are black and white, but I can see the beautiful patterns on the paint horses my great grandparents rode. I envision the horses to be black and white, and I can only imagine how spectacular they both looked in those canary yellow shirts trotting down Main Street. The smell is there too. That’s right. Tobacco from a pipe smoked my great grandfather, Ben Barr.
I have been told that I am a lot like her. We both love all animals, and I am just discovering my love for gardening. However, there is one way we are different. The treasures she left for me are not hidden under the bed. They are displayed prominently in random places around my house where I can use them or enjoy them daily. The reminders are not painful. They are happy. A history.
The shirts came out of the frame last night, and we rode into the Boots And Spurs Ball like we were on those paints. I am not sure I will ever have the opportunity to ride in a parade or carry a flag in the opening ceremony of a rodeo, but I can wear a canary yellow shirt. My husband can wear one too.
And we did.
HELM Handmade Boots were made for walkin’ and lookin’ good.
This Friday morning RDC shout-out goes to Josh Bingaman, an Okie who now lives in Austin.
Who has a passion for creating a line of nouveaux rustic, and downright dapper, hand-made men’s boots and shoes.
Who’s inspiration for his creations came from a venture he co-owned and managed with his brother called the Subterranean Shoe Room.
Who also owns Progress Coffee in Austin with his wife.
You can read the story and other press pieces on their website. You can know that, depending upon your foot size, these men’s boots could fit women as well. And you can be certain that when wearing them, you’ll walk a little taller…how could you not?
Utilizing connections and relationships the world over, HELM boots are hand-made in Istanbul with soles from Italy, served up in several locations around the U.S. And they absolutely eke of style; an old-world return to a new future we have for fashion and footwear.
Based upon my research this morning, it appears that Josh and the boots have received a good bit of publicity in Oklahoma, including a feature in the Daily Oklahoman and a trunk show at the Shoe Gypsy. However, I’m just now finding out about them and frankly, have mentally started a “HELM boots savings account” to buy my favorite pair.
The culture of creativity runs deep in Red Dirt country and sometimes that story extends beyond the Red River. And sometimes to the other side of the world.
Congratulations, Josh, for realizing one of your dreams. I’m sure you’ll have more, based upon what you’ve done to this point. I’m making a note to check on you in another year…and I’ll be sportin’ my HELM boots when I do.
Editor’s note: For a full review on Ludivine OKC Restaurant, please visit HERE.
There is a line in The Princess Bride where Inigo Montoya says, “Let me ‘splain. No…there is too much. Let me sum up.” Well, I feel the need to ‘splain – not summarize.
Growing up in rural Oklahoma as a youngster meant I was exposed to a life different from my current suburban context. My father was tri-vocational. He worked at FAA for his day job, he and my mother operated a small Angus cattle farm during the evenings and weekends, he did electrical wiring jobs for occasional money and ran a small business with his friend called B&C Enterprises. Dad was the “B.” My maiden name is Bomgardner. B&C enterprises operated a transportation service to and from FAA every work day, bought scrap gold and jewelry to send to the refinery for a small profit, and perhaps other ventures I didn’t even comprehend.
We usually traded my grandfather one of our steers for one of his, thus not eating our own beef (we frequently named our cattle), but beef we knew was raised in an acceptable way. We ate eggs from our Bantam (we called them Banty) chickens and harvested honey from our beehives. We gathered dandelion greens and poke salad off the land and gathered Morel mushrooms from the creek beds. And, we raised much of our food in a garden. An “Organic Gardening” garden.
“Organic Gardening” was one of the magazines my father received in the mail for much of my formative years. Every year, my father would order a load of cotton hulls to be delivered to our garden. They would sit on top of the soil all winter long breaking down with the moisture of the snow, and in the springtime before planting he would turn it all under to begin the growing process once again.
My mother canned vegetables with a pressure cooker. My grandparents raised corn in a section of their land that we harvested every year. We picked sand plums to make jams and jellies, and picked blackberries when they were in season. Our neighbors’ parents had a large strawberry patch that we were allowed to harvest. My grandfather raised watermelons. My uncle in Tuttle and my aunt in Bethany had an apricot tree. My great-grandmother in town had a pear tree. We had an orchard where we raised sweet and tart cherries, peaches, plums and apples.
My brother and I used to play a game where we would ride our small Yamaha 50 under the cherry tree during harvesting time. We would reach out with one hand and grab a bunch while cruising under the tree at top 50cc speed, then stop to see how many cherries we had scored on that particular run.
We purchased milk from our neighbors and a friend in town who had a dairy. My parents made their own yogurt with their yogurt maker. We sometimes make sumac lemonade or tea when the red velvet sumac on our property pollinated at the end of the summer. We cut and bailed the prairie hay we fed our cattle. We purchased bales of alfalfa from local farmers for supplements.
A trip into town to eat at a restaurant was fairly rare. I usually ordered a bologna sandwich or a corn dog when that happened…that was “fancy food” to me. Ah, youth…
I’m sharing this information with you because it might better help you understand why I’m using this space on the RDC to give not just one but TWO shout-outs this week to the soon-to-open Ludivine restaurant in downtown Oklahoma City. I’ve now watched every one of their eleven 4.5 minute videos posted on their YouTube channel. In each segment, they highlight a vendor they have built a relationship with in order to bring the food raised in Oklahoma to the table of those who eat in their restaurant.
My heart warmed while viewing them. We used to raise “Jerusalem Artichokes” in our garden at home. They’re using “Sunchokes” (same thing) in their restaurants. One of the videos shows the pains of gathering Sand Plums and discusses the rewards of why you would do such a thing. And most of all – there are people across Oklahoma who Ludivine has connected with carrying on a tradition of raising organic, nutritious, fresh and wonderful treasures in our precious Oklahoma soil. They seem to be committed to helping you feast on their crops or products that they prepared in a loving and conscientious way.
Here’s to you, Ludivine, for documenting your developmental journeys and relationships with your growers and vendors. And here’s to you, Wagon Creek Creamery, Two Tomatoes Farm, OM Gardens, Regional Food Bank, Avalon Seafood, Willie’s Ribs, Coop Ale Works and Urban Agrarian. (We mentioned Peach Crest Farms earlier this week).
Thank you twice. Thanks for all you do, all your plans and for all you hope to be.
Good luck! (Click the picture below to visit Ludivine’s YouTube videos).
Thank you, Ludivine Restaurant, for making short videos highlighting local growers and the products you use. Thank you, Oklahoma Food Cooperative, for helping share the story and share the love.
All three of you rock. Keep up the great work, Red Dirt Kelly
CLICK PICTURE BELOW TO VIEW COOL VIDEO
I don’t envy the library employees who labored to document, scan and archive electronic images of The Daily Oklahoman from the day OPUBCO opened its doors. But I sure do appreciate them.
Last year I was doing some research that led me to discover this feat had been accomplished, so last night I logged on to do some more. This time for the Chronicles. I wanted to see what Labor Day Weekend was like in Red Dirt country fifty years ago.
What I found was a slice of life that made me laugh, frown, send a clipping to my colleague at OSU and think about my friends who are politically active. I experienced quite an array of emotions for the hour I perused the September 1st, 2nd and 3rd issues of the paper. Then I tried to decide how I would put all that information into a small Friday morning blog posting.
The decision I arrived at was to provide you bullet points of what stood out to me, provide you with a few visuals, then encourage you to try this type of exercise on your own if you enjoyed it. Here we go…
And, Governor Edmondson was trying his best to educate the state about several legislative measures going to a vote of the people very soon.
So I wonder…what has changed? The Oklahoma culture is still here: Football season, Labor Day cookouts (standard across our country), the local and county fairs, community, politics and the news.
It seems that most of what has changed, besides the fashion, are socio-political factors. There isn’t a “Red” scare any more…but there are others, right? Are people of various skin colors still being threatened with persecution and derogatory name calling?
Okay. Perhaps not all that much has changed.
However, the technology to retrieve this information is a huge difference. People will cook with technology that wasn’t invented in 1960. The football games will have real-time updates on the internet and entertain the crowd with multimillion dollar big screen “wow factors.” Brides-to-be will be utilizing event management software by an account set up online within their wedding planner’s website. People will take digital photographs of their fair entries and send them to their family around the country.
There are differences. Perhaps a bit of the socio-political paranoia is gone…maybe.
But there sure are similarities as well.
How many people have visited Meers, Oklahoma to get a hamburger and wax nostalgic? How about Eischen’s Fried Chicken in Okarche? Wilson’s BBQ in Tulsa? J&W Grill in Chickasha? The Italian restaurants in Krebs?
How many have visited these establishments for so long that they then take their children and eventually their grandchildren? Of those grandchildren taken by their grandparents (who were waxing nostalgic as well as enjoying their precious cargo), how many decide to then take their teenage friends back and begin their own sentimental journeys?
I have no idea. I do know that at least one has followed this hypothetical pattern. She took her boyfriend on August 18th, their two-year “dating anniversary.” She took him to Meers, Oklahoma to get a hamburger because she had a nice time when she was a kid on a trip with her grandparents.
Tylz and Rylz (Tyler Garcia and Rylee Roberts) headed toward southwest Oklahoma at approximately 3:30 in the afternoon. They had scheduled the afternoon and evening off work, dressed up slightly, printed out a map and set out to find the restaurant on their own. It wasn’t their first road trip and it probably won’t be the last.
They arrived at the restaurant, ate dinner, talked to the cook, and said hello to the stray cats. The cook said they could take one with them if they wanted. “Well,” he hesitated. “Not the fat one. You can take one of the others.” Evidently he had a soft spot for the “fat” cat. I wonder how many hamburgers that cat has ingested?
Just prior to arriving at the restaurant, Rylee spied a sign on the road. “That’s where I went on youth retreats! Camp Y’Shua…Let’s go back there after we eat. I’ll show you where I camped!”
Where she camped. Where she went with her grandparents. Where she went to her youth retreats. Tyler was getting the grand memory tour and Rylee was just fine with being the tour guide.
They said goodbye to the cats at the restaurant, explored the grounds at Camp Y’Shua, stopped by the lake to watch the sunset and headed home.
Tonight I was trying to decide what to put on the blog since we moved our Sports release to Friday, and another piece I had come in didn’t really fit our mission. It was one of those “What do I do now?” times. So I’m digging. Digging for some angle. I asked Rylee, “What is it about the 20-something crowd that makes them want to go back and explore the Oklahoma culture? The grass roots of our state? What is it that motivated you to choose Meers for your two-year anniversary trip?”
“It’s not my ‘group’ or my friends that are doing this, mom. We were the only ones our age in the restaurant. I just wanted to go back.” She sounded slightly annoyed.
“Okay. So, you just randomly decided to go?”
“No,” she replied. “That’s not it. I just wanted to go because I went there once with Granny and Papa when I was little and I liked it. That’s all.”
Her reason was so much more than I had assumed before I heard her answer. And, it was certainly deeper than my questions.
It’s a Saturday. The nine-to-fivers are reveling in the covers that hide the dawn’s glare this A.M.
But not us. My husband and I begin our weekdays before some people go to bed, and the weekend is no different. Like every household, we have things to do. OUR problem is that usually we have each created our own lists (hidden in our own minds) and have divided the chores out between us without telling the other about the plans. It could be a problem if we let it. We don’t.
I stopped picking the last of the tomatoes to watch Greg lower the Purple Martin house to get it ready for the winter and ultimately next spring. He joined me in the melon patch to check on our first watermelons. We are both amazed at how much fruit our only two melon plants have produced. I made a mental note to put the tomato cages up for next season. He set up the sprinklers to water the yard. I fed the kittens. He fed the cats. I carried my coffee across the pasture to give the horses some carrots. They knew it was not my usual time with them, and they seemed grateful.
There is always so much to do out here, but neither of us seem to mind. We have stopped to sit on the backporch to have some coffee. Greg remembered that the front gate doesn’t latch. We have got to fix that. It’s added to the list. Before noon we will have added as many chores as we have completed this morning. Maybe he’s right next to me; maybe he is across the pasture. Either way, we are content to divide and conquer our chores for today, so we can spend the evening……together.
I am a white-skinned father with a black-skinned son.
A little over a year ago, my wife, Amy, and I adopted our son, Silas, from Ethiopia.
Silas turned two in December.
Today our conversations tend to revolve around our favorite snacks – yogurt and lemon pound cake at Starbucks – and favorite TV characters and movies – Elmo and Ratatouille. We also squabble very little these days. Sometimes Silas will take a swing at me when I take away the Wii joystick. And other times he’ll treat the cheese sandwich I made him for dinner like a Frisbee.
One day, though, Silas will want to talk about other things. Like the color of his skin. And my skin. And his mother’s skin. And pictures and events and people and dates he finds in his history textbook.
There are some historical dates I don’t want to broach with Silas then. August 12th, 1955, for example. That’s the day Emmett Till, a 14 year old boy, was brutally lynched in Mississippi by white, southern, “Christian” men.
Or April 4th, 1968. That’s the fateful day Dr. King had his hope-filled voice silenced by a sniper’s gun.
But then there are days in America’s history I can’t wait to explain to Silas.
Days like December 1st, 1955, for example. The day when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man. That small, defiant “no” reverberated out into a large, defiant “no more.”
There are other days, too. Like August 28th, 1963. The day Dr. King delivered his famous message, “I Have a Dream.” It was a day unlike any other day. It was a day of dreaming of another kind of America.
And then there was November 4th, 2008. Obama’s presidential victory. And then there was January 20th, 2009. Obama’s inauguration.
These are dates I look forward to telling Silas about – not as a student of history, but as a participator in making history.
And I will tell Silas this: whether one voted for Obama or not, one could not argue that it was a significant symbolic moment. And a storied moment with deep biblical resonances. From hundreds of years wandering in the wilderness of prejudice and oppression. To now the new days of exploring the “milk and honey” land of equality and opportunity.
Undoubtedly, MLK glimpsed the Promised Land from a distance. Like Moses. Like a dream just beyond his grasp. But Silas, you, and others of your skin color will experience this land as a blessed reality. Like Joshua. And the nation of Israel.
I can only pray that this new land for you will shimmer with the topsoil of fresh possibility, and contain in its seedbed the promise of renewed dignity. But, Silas, there are still weeds trying to choke out these verdant seeds. For though the “color line” W.B. Dubois spoke of has been broken in America’s political establishment, it still exists in America’s religious establishment. 95% of the evangelical church, for example, still remains divided along the color line. Unfortunately, Martin Luther King Jr.’s truism stills rings true today: 11 am on Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America. Perhaps, though, Silas, by the time you come of age, that small, subversive 5% of the American church will have grown and spread through the body of Christ like a lush vine.
Voting though won’t bring this change.
Only Spirit-led repentance will.
I can only pray that you discover these seeds pods of repentance bursting within my heart. And your mom’s heart. And your grandparents’ hearts. And in the hearts of all of those who you know that call themselves Christ followers.
I am reminded of observing MLK Day last year. You, your mom, and I celebrated Dr. King’s legacy with our adoption community at the Queen of Sheba, a local Ethiopian restaurant. On that special day, our dear friends, Eric and Tara, received their referral picture from Ethiopia of their soon-to-be-adopted baby boy, Malak. That night we laughed and cried over Malak’s picture, ooing and awing at his large black eyes and his luminous smile.
Later that night as I lay awake in bed and reflected on that festive evening, I couldn’t help but wonder if in fact Dr. King were alive today, would he approve of couples like us and the Silvestres adopting black children. I also thought about how far we have come, from an age of colonialism, where Africans were our slaves, to this new post colonial age, where Africans are now our sons. And I wondered if Dr. King could have even dreamed of such a day when such transformation was possible. Who knows really? But it makes me wonder if at the Queen of Sheba, if just for a fleeting moment, with our bellies full of freshly baked bread, and sweet Ethiopian wine on our tongues, and with you in our arms, and Malak’s picture in front of our faces, if we did not glimpse even if for a moment, the future community of God, the eschatological days when the old age of hatred and racial division will be truly over, and a new age of love and racial harmony will have begun.
As I closed my eyes to sleep, I suddenly recalled Dr. King’s words spoken days before he was assassinated.
“The end is reconciliation;
the end is redemption;
the end is the creation of the beloved community.”
And remembering these words, Silas, I thought to myself, Perhaps the end has already begun.
Editor’s Note – this article is reprinted from Relevant, an online magazine. It was published as a Martin Luther King Day feature dated Monday, January 19, 2009. Josh is the Director of College Counseling at Casady High School in Oklahoma City. He coaches basketball, is a husband and now a father of TWO children from Ethiopia. Silas has a little sister. She joined the family in June of this year.
by Julie Allgyer
There is something special about girls from Oklahoma. We are…different.
I realized this after browsing through a real estate magazine at a local restaurant and noticing a photo of a girl who went to my high school back in the late 70’s. She was currently a local real estate agent living about thirty miles from me. We had not been good friends in high school and didn’t have a junior high slumber party memory to share, but somehow I knew that when I called her, she would remember me. She did.
Shortly after contacting her, my husband and I were invited to her home for a Sunday lunch. We had a fabulous time and I have since seen her on several other occasions. I even stayed overnight at her house (not exactly a slumber party, but it will do) when a two-day workshop took me to her city. We had dinner and talked about growing up in Chickasha, Oklahoma.
There are many other Oklahoma women who continue to touch my world: an OSU sorority sister bumped into me in the middle of Reading Station in Philadelphia, a classmate stopped by to have a quick dinner while traveling I-40 to a new chapter in her life, a lady at the convenience store wearing an Eskimo Joe’s T-shirt held my place in line, and my former principal, who is hoping to find her way back to Oklahoma, molded me into the writing teacher I am today. My former principal is also expecting her fifth grandchild, a girl named Preslee, who no doubt will reap the benefits of being raised as an “Okie.”
So here’s to Preslee, who has no idea how lucky she is about to get, and all the other women who qualify. You know who you are.
An Oklahoma Girl From Head to Toe
Sun-bleached or shiny black locks like a horse’s mane
Lake-blue eyes, or as dark as night on a rural road
When it comes to character, Oklahoma girls reign
With inner and outer strength, they will always carry their load
Lips that whisper a song just when you think you’ve forgotten the tune
Shoulders that can bear the weight of her worries and yours
Beads of sweat on her back from the Oklahoma heat in June
A loving heart beating strong and fast like an eagle soars
Legs that can carry her to her destiny, however long
Feet barefoot or not, walking toward a horizon of blue
Are you looking in the mirror? Do you see someone beautiful and strong?
By birth or at heart, you may be an Oklahoma Girl too
This morning I drove to Tuttle, Oklahoma. My agenda: visit with my parents, say hello to my aunt and uncle, give my grandmother a hug and drive back home.
There is an ongoing ritual between my parents and I. Most every time I go home, I bring something back that technically belonged to me when I was a child, and is definitely something my parents don’t have the heart to throw away. I’m 46 years old and the process continues to this day. Bits and pieces, here and there, trip by trip. Books, school uniforms, the box with my trophies and medals…get the picture?
Today my treasure pile for the return trip consisted of a circa mid-70s mod flower print sleeping bag, a pair of overalls my mother found at a garage sale (just for the heck of it, these were not from my childhood) and a red, white and blue print pressed cardboard suitcase. I assumed it was empty.
On the top of the suitcase written in my best childhood cursive penmanship was a blue ink message: “I like Jeff H. and Mark W.” Evidently, at that point in my life (which I’m pegging around the sixth grade), I had a hard time deciding which boy to like best so I just “liked” them both. Apology shout-outs to Jeff Holsey or Mark Whittington if they ever read this post. Also included in this message was a colored-in arrow and a star beside their names. I suppose that was my way of emphasizing that I definitely meant THEM and they needed to be punctuated with a star. (In my mind right now I’m hearing Mary Catherine Gallagher say, “Soopa-staaaahhh!”)
Later today I called my parent’s home by accident. I spoke with my mother for a few minutes and before I hung up she said, “Kelly – if you decide to throw away those Barbie dolls, I want the hand-knitted doll clothes back, okay?”
I’m sorry…what? Did she say “BARBIES!?” Suddenly the suitcase became important. No longer was it a cute little reminder of my childhood. It was holding my BARBIES!
We were already on our way out the door to run errands. I conducted an interview, took a shower, watched a Roller Derby bout, ate dinner with my eldest and her boyfriend and came home. I walked in the door and immediately opened the suitcase.
As I lifted the lid it was like one of those movies where you open the treasure chest only to find another treasure chest inside made of better materials…wood on the outside, gold inside, right? INSIDE the suitcase was my plastic coated Barbie doll carrier. And inside THAT was Ken, Barbie, Skipper, and some little doll I never named. She was in far better shape than the other three.
Here’s my chain of memories as they came to me next: I had a groovy Barbie van they rode around in. I made them a campsite with pebbles and teeny bits of twigs. I changed their clothes a hundred times. I warded off boys in the 4th through 6th grade who tried to undress my Barbie’s clothes because that’s just what boys do at that age. I cleaned the smudges off their faces. I combed Barbie and Skipper’s hair into ponytails, pigtails, doggie-ears and up-dos. But some of the most fun times I enjoyed playing with them was when my brother and I set up all his little plastic green army men to protect my Barbies from our collection of plastic jungle animal “enemies.”
In our living room we had green shag carpet and an antique green chaise lounge my parents had re-upholstered with green velveteen-type fabric. That combination was our pretend grass and mountain landscape. Perfect, right? The army men who crawled on their belly would be balanced precariously on the rounded arms of the chairs so that they could jump down on top of a tiger if it threatened the Barbie camp too much.
I loved those army men. My mother sucked one up just about every time she ran the vacuum cleaner. They were pretty well hidden in the shag carpet “grass” after we played with them for a while.
Back to reality and fading away from my memories, I looked at my watch. “Late,” I thought. I yawned and sifted through the rest of the Barbie outfits, hung the pastel green purse on Barbie’s hand and turned out the light.
I need to call my brother. It’s just not going to be the same playing with these Barbies if he doesn’t bring over his bucket of army men. I wonder if the missile launcher is still chewed off?
If he DOES find the tub and we DO play again, I’m denying, denying, denying that I chewed off the missile launcher. After all, they can’t make me talk in pretend army camp. And if they try, I’ll just drive my Barbie van home!
by Red Dirt Kelly
As I approached the “No Loitering” a-frame sign I knew the message was a nice way of saying, “Stay out – we’re working.” My curiosity got the best of me, however, and I walked closer to the corner gate of the practice field. I could hear the OSU football team yelling drills and the sounds of helmets and pads crashing together as tackles took place over and over. The burning sun overhead made the practice atmosphere feel genuinely intimidating. A physically fit man with sunglasses and white hair decked out in new orange and black coach clothes looked my way as I got closer.
“Hey – can I take a quick photo of the team practicing?” I smiled.
“It’s closed. So…no.” He responded.
“How about of you? You look interesting!” I retorted.
“I can assure you that I am NOT interesting,” he chuckled. I waved and walked on….straight to the athletic ticket office. For the first time in about eight years I picked up a packet of student tickets for my husband and I. We were willing to trade our chair-backed seats in the alumni section for the reduced cost of these babies. With three of our family members in college, you bet your patooty we were. Besides, sitting in the student section always helps you remember mankind is a primal being – there is raw energy like no other around those crazy, crazy fans.
I checked the envelope to make sure his “student dependent/spouse” card was in the packet, talked to a few others picking up their tickets and walked back to the car.
On my returning stroll, I noticed that practice was continuing without a guarded gate and a photo would have been easy pickings…but I decided not to push things today. After all, the atmosphere across campus was just way too happy. I didn’t need to spoil the mood with being chased off the premises.
The volunteers manning information and water booths for the students were happy. The students trying to find their way around campus were also happy. The faculty walking up and down the halls in the College of Human Environmental Sciences were happy. There were new posters on the walls of student athletes in our college, students who had earned honors or done research…a smile on all their faces.
As I walked up the stairs to my office and sat down, I noticed I was in an incredibly good mood. My season football and basketball tickets were now in my purse, my syllabi were written and I had just seen my first advisee of the semester.
I have a sneaking suspicion I know why professors wait so long to retire…something about the university setting is like a fountain of youth. A new school year, a new promise of learning, a new hope of beating the living daylights out of our competition in the sports arenas.
It’s going to be a good year.