Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Heavener, my Heavener

Over this past weekend I visited my home town again. It had been several months since I was last there.

Before I say too much about the visit, however, I feel that I should apologize to those of you that still live there. My negative comments aren't meant to be ugly, but I will be sharing some observations that could be perceived that way.

Since my Dad moved to Poteau, in order to be closer to my sisters who live there, I don't visit Heavener as much as I once did. On this trip, I had gone over to visit my Mom's gravesite, which I hadn't seen since her burial earlier this year.

Upon leaving the cemetery, I decided to drive around town and revisit some of the areas I once knew so well.

I noted that there are several businesses on the highway that weren 't there 5 years ago. That was encouraging, I thought. The Dollar Store (or was it the Dollar General) appeared to be pretty busy. There were several cars there.
The Sonic was as colorful as any I've seen in Texas. That railroad car restaurant is still in business, that's encouraging. The nursing home on the highway showed signs of renovation since I last noticed it.

The train station was still there, of course...and what would Heavener be if it weren't! I never pass the depot without remembering when the deer pen occupied the corner at the stop light...where it should be today, I might add.

As I left the highway and started toward the high school, I started noticing things that haven't changed that much. Especially when I crossed over the oil branch. It looked the same. I was surprised at how many houses that were occupied 50 years ago are still standing today. Some of them look as if they haven't been painted during that time. Also, I wondered if some of them had sound roofs. It appeared that people were living in them....at least, in some of their rooms.

After reading Bill's description of the butchering of his steer, I noted that the FFA building is one of the few 'old' buildings still standing on the school property. The shop building is still there, as is the old gym building, but I noticed that the buses are now open to the weather in the lot across from the shop building, instead of being housed in the old bus barns. I didn't notice, but maybe the bus barns are no longer there.

As I drove down Avenue B, my old stomping ground, and passed the house that we had lived in all my life there, I couldn't believe how small it looked...and crowded. The trees and some of the shrubs that were there when I was a kid, now occupy so much more real estate. The owners today have less than half the yard I once had to mow.

Continuing down Avenue B, toward the Methodist Church, I wondered if the City has ever done any maintenance of the sidewalks since they were originally constructed. It didn't appear that they have. I can remember roller skating down the sidewalk (where there were sidewalks on that street), but if one were do try that today, he or she would likely break a leg.

Obviously, this isn't a comprehensive description of town. I just made these observations during the short route I took that day. I'm sure there are still very nice areas SOMEWHERE in town. But it didn't appear that many people on the streets I was driving spend much time trying to keep their places looking nice. Some did, don't get me wrong, but more didn't. Maybe I just picked a bad day to visit.

I did make an observation as I left town to return to Poteau. As I drove out of town, I looked toward the West and noticed a hill that appeared to be covered with nice homes. Maybe that's where a lot of Heavenerites live these days. I think my old friend, Johnny Newcomer lives over there, as does my former neighbor, Patsy (Linville) Burroughs. I should drive around in that area on my next visit.

I envy Craig, Patsy, Fred, Sue, John, Lana, Bill, Sadie, Joe, and so many others that I grew up with and around, who still call Heavener home. Having been there all these years, they've all adapted to the changes and think nothing of them, probably. It's when you've been living away for so many years that it seems so different...at least to me.

Heavener will always be my home town. I almost look forward to trying to explain where it is when people ask me "where are you from". "Heavener's a small town in Eastern Oklahoma, just inside the state line, not too far from Fort Smith, Arkansas" "That's Heaven, with an 'er' on the end of it". Heavener, my Heavener.


At May 14, 2008 at 6:53 AM , Blogger Craig Hall said...

Chuck, you are right. Heavener faces a lot of problems. Many of the houses need to be torn down and there isn't the pride that once existed. Downtown is a mess, also. Fortunately the highway has been renovated and there are some nice homes located in an addition off Wister Lake Road and the area you were describing, Timber Ridge Road. There are still a lot of good people here, we just need to figure out some way to get things going back the right way.

At May 14, 2008 at 9:10 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Things have changed so much in Heavener, it's sorta sad, but it is still my home town, too. I hardly even recognize 2nd Street where I lived.

At May 27, 2008 at 12:01 PM , Anonymous annkiksey said...

Chuck, At Morris Creek Rd. and Hillcrest Dr. is a little piece of Heaven-er that remains almost pristine, if you discount the O.K. feed mill and coal mining. However I still arise each a.m. with the most beautiful view of several mountain ranges that God ever created. My own "little corner of the world, Heaven-er OK.

At May 30, 2008 at 10:46 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

I know that view you speak of, Ann. I hated to see my Dad move away from that hill with the view to the South.

Dad misses that view.


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