Quentin started working as a substitute mail carrier and later (about 1949) started working as clerk in the Post Office at Tuttle so we started having a little more money to spend. In February, 1956, he got a rural mail route at Amber, Oklahoma. He carried the mail until November 15th, 1956 when he died of a brain hemorrhage; age 36, he lacked two weeks being 37. This was a sad day for Kenny, Terry and me. I didn’t know what I could do to make a living. I didn’t know how to do anything but clean house. I carried mail for 3 months at Amber, in Quentin’s place, until they appointed a carrier. We got $125.00 per month annuity, $4,000 insurance from the Post Office, and $1,500 from Universal Life Insurance. Since the place we lived in belonged to Grandmother Porter, we bought a house in town for $3,800. And spent $700 on it before we moved in. Uncle Gail and Uncle Dwight helped use fix it up. We were very comfortably situated.
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.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.