When grappling for a descriptive term to help you understand where we were, “as the crow flies” came to mind.
Approximately three to five miles southwest of Picher, OK, as the crow flies, we met Sherry Pierce. To reach her, we crossed a cattle guard and ambled across the gravel property entrance. She was attending to trash burning in a barrel at one of two trailers in a desolate setting, her dog skipping around at her side.
Sherry looked minutia-like against the vast gray sky, the empty acreage, vacant cattle trailers and the capable farm equipment scattered close by. Chat piles broke up the landscape to her north and east. As we drove up, rolled down the window, and explained our project she didn’t blink. An inner peace and easiness about her permeated our conversation.
After eight years of commuting to Joplin to care for animals every day, and helping her uncle and grandfather during nights and weekends, Sherry no longer lives at this location. Her grandfather has passed away; her reason for being there is gone, and she – along with her dog named Red Solo Cup – are now somewhere to the north and east a hundred miles. As the crow flies.
The animals who meet you are lucky, Sherry. You “fall in love with them.” You see the souls in their eyes.
Thanks for sharing your own soul with us when we showed up that day.
Emotions carried me through our entire visit with Danny Dillon at the Coleman Theatre in Miami, OK. As he shared anecdotes from teaching high school drama, I was running a parallel process internally. Having taught high school drama for eight years, I had experienced a similar story for each one he told. Cripes, I missed the theatre…and Dillon did everything he could to help us enjoy the full experience of the Coleman the day we sat and talked…which made me miss it even more.
Our photographer and videographer filled up too many memory cards to count during our time with Dillon. We could produce multiple pieces of the Coleman’s history, special features about the tourists going walking through the the theatre’s plush hallways with us, profiles of the volunteers who spend hundreds of hours using the donor’s hundreds of thousands of dollars to bring back the original glory, and more.
And we may. Someday.
But our first duty is to those with whom we get to know, and we had a beautiful conversation with Dillon. His full heart is invested in what he does at the high school, his church, and at the Coleman. It’s as if he has three hearts…no, four. A heart for his children and wife were apparent as well.
Even after having documented the Miami stop over six months ago, I am quite awestruck when I think about how many children have been introduced to the stage, to plays and musicals, to silent movies with amazing organ music, and to history…because of Danny, the Coleman at large, and the “extra at-large” community that makes it happen.
We are tipping our Tom Mix hats to you, Miami. You’re really quite something.
Showcasing Red Dirt culture ~ authored and managed by contributors with connections to the great state of Oklahoma.