Last summer I wrote a series of articles for NonDoc covering topics of racial themes, narratives, and Oklahoma Black oral histories. The act of “saving each other” was highlighted throughout one article, with narratives covering our stops in Lexington, Grove, IXL, and Cromwell.
I personally experience difficulty when sharing what I consider to be “data” — unfiltered narratives of the dear ones who give us their time. Each decision I make on what to share is informed by my own background and culture. When reporting on themes like corporal punishment, or leaving phrases like “colored people” in an audio files, I wrestle with my own positionality…and the intersectionality of me (the listener), and they (the historians).
During one of these decision-making struggles last year, I became especially glad to have support from someone at Next Thought studios. Carl Evens, a personal friend and employee of Next Thought stepped in and relieved me of some of those editorial decisions when he was experimenting with this question: “What if Every Point on the Map had animation and/or video graphic support to help tell their stories?”
Carl’s work here with the Drucilla Martin discussion helps “just a bit more” of our work be available to you with the reframing of geographical reference points.
Thank you, Carl. You were good guide to help drag me out of the deep-tangle woods that is my own brain. I only wish we could jump from town to town as quickly as your graphics do in this video!
~ Red Dirt Kelly
Note to readers: Our family’s transition from Edmond to Ada was all-consuming. However, we’re beginning to feel settled. And paradoxically, as I personally feel settled, I get restless — my EPOTM traveling spirit is ready to go. We’ll be deploying about 8-10 more stops of content we have not shared, then in August we’ll hit the road again. We have fun, new information about our August relaunching period and I’ll tell you these trade secrets at my earliest possible time! Happy travels…RDK
89 year-old Drucilla “Dru” Martin is almost completely blind. But the life she witnessed prior to her dimming view was, in many ways, quite extraordinary.
We met Dru during our last stop in far NE Oklahoma. With more energy than most of our discussants, she told stories for well over 1.5 hours, stopping only because we had to return home. Dru’s memories are clear – her recall dating back to early childhood.
In some ways, I’m sorry we couldn’t have purchased three more memory cards and stayed until sunset. Her personality, as you will hear, is true grit. Like so many during the Great Depression, many of her narratives were supported by a rationale that she endured challenges because she, in fact no one during that time, had a choice.
Produced in “bite sized” stories averaging 3-6 minutes long, the sound files below can be downloaded into your podcast app. I would like to thank our team for documenting this conversation in fairly close quarters with low lighting, and Dru for working diligently to share her life so that others might learn about early Western Oklahoma history through her perspectives.
Finally, I want to add that it was personally difficult to hear descriptions of her younger brother as “wimpy.” However, it’s clear from her stories that having been put in the role of his protector during some extremely harsh bullying episodes at school, she would have strong feelings.
~ Kelly Roberts, Director, Every Point on the Map
Photographs by Rachel J Apple; Audio by April Kirby
Drucilla Martin was experiencing pain the day we visited her in an assisted living center located in Grove, Oklahoma. This first story tells about how she had recently fallen on her “rumpy bump.”
Many Oklahomans lived in “oil lease housing” during high production days. Children were sickened, perhaps, due to water problems in the drilling areas. And, evidently, the houses were equipped with open face stoves.
The paradox of parenting a young cowgirl is illustrated in this story of equestrian triumph.
The Great Depression is documented in many ways. However, to my knowledge, I’ve never heard of a “hobo code” – one way wandering homeless communicated during the time.
Oklahomans understand tornadoes and floods are part of our geospatial landscape. But without modern communication systems, more died. In this segment, young Dru grapples with how to describe weather events to her family.
It’s clear by this next series that Dru’s father was a giving person. And, there were both positive and negative consequences of his generosity.
“Digging in and completing extreme task”s as part of Dru’s identity and personality come through with clarity in the following stories.
As mentioned in the introductory message above, Dru’s brother endured some extreme bullying at school. And, as his sister, Dru endured some very trying times as well.
While Dru spent much more time with us than is conveyed in these sound clips, I’ve elected to share the more historically framed illustrations. I do hope you leave this post with some semblance of awe, as we did, about the “life and times” of Drucilla Miller.
Editor’s note: Dru’s story about the brick reminded me immediately of a gripping saga once told by Native American storyteller, Tim Tingle. If you ever have a chance to hear him perform, and he tells the story of his grandmother and “Salty Pie,” you’ll understand why I’m beginning to dislike bricks as weapons. He also published a book by the same name, and I’m assuming it’s the full story in written form.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.