Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Memories of "How It Was"

Heavener was my sole home for the first eighteen years of my life. After being graduated from HHS in 1959 it remained my home but it was never my sole home again. However, Heavener did cast its spell on me n those eighteen years and it always beckoned to me as “home” even while I attended college and then moved to various places around this country. Since 1959 I have lived in Wilburton, Stillwater, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Roseville (Michigan), and Hillsboro (Tennessee). All three children Jessie and I have were born and raised in Tennessee so I suppose that Hillsboro may always have the pull for them that Heavener has always had for me.

It has been most interesting to read Bill Babcock’s stories of late, just like it was to read John’s (Inman), Chuck’s (Hudlow), and all the other bloggers on HOL. Bill is right about the fact that most people never knew that the old HHS had a basement for the boiler. I certainly did not.

Previous blogs have noted that Heavener has changed. It really has. I remember things like the weekly drawings held down town for various prizes. My maternal grandfather (Frank Bissell) attended all those and, I think, won something on more than one occasion. The depot that Chuck mentioned earlier is forever locked in my memory as a mysterious place with the passenger waiting room on one end and the dispatcher’s office on the other (upstairs). The quiet “panting” (brake system) of the 0-4-0 switch engine sitting in front of the depot waiting for a train to come in is a sound I can still conjure up if I try really hard. The advent of diesels in the late forties and early fifties took away the mournful sound of the steam engines as they whistled for the crossings. The air horns on the diesels simply do not have the class steam whistles do. All these things are gone now and exist only in the minds of those of us who were lucky enough to live in Heavener back then.

I walked to school from the time I started first grade in the old West Side school until I got a car when I was in the seventh grade. Yep, that’s right. I got a car (a 1936 Chevrolet sedan) and started driving when I was only twelve. And the police didn’t care a bit. Try that one now. If it occurred here in Tennessee the parents would be hailed into court on a charge like “endangering a minor and everyone else on the road.” I paid $25 for the car and sold in at a penny per pound when I was in the tenth grade. I “made” $6.50 on the deal because the car weighed 3,150 pounds per the junk dealer’s scales.

Football was THE sport and we started playing in the sixth grade. We practiced on the east side of the West Side Grade School in a space about 30 feet wide and 100 feet long. We pretty much stayed intact as a team through Junior High School and on into High School. By our senior year we were pretty good and went to the quarterfinals. Maybe the fact that we began practice earlier than other teams at “football camp” had something to do with that. During the first part of each season we were weeks ahead of our opponents because of those camps. We didn’t use full pads (that would have been really illegal) but we sure did wear helmets and shoulder pads. Those early practices involved some pretty hard hitting as well as being three-a-day sessions.

When I get back to Heavener (more and more rarely now that both Jessie’s and my parents are dead) I can see palpable differences. Not only are the downtown buildings more dilapidated, the whole west side of town where I grew up has a different mien about it. My old home place is gone, the victim of a fire. The little stores that (at different times) were on either side of the house (first Clyde and Pearl Whisenant’s and then Owen and Debrorah Davis’) are long gone. Now I suppose that essentially all the small mom-and-pop stores that were scattered around town are all gone too. The old artesian well (between Avenues H and G off fourth street west) is covered over by houses. It was around that well that Heavener had its start back at the turn of the century (from the eighteen hundreds to the nineteen hundreds). The Presbyterian Church that I attended is no longer affiliated with the Presbyterian denomination but is now devoted to the Hispanic community. Two banks have become one (and that one owned by outsiders) and Dowdens Funeral Home is part of a larger corporation. No one knows what I mean when I talk about fixing flats at Rockman’s station using hot patches for the inner tubes.

It’s all different now. But, maybe for those living there now, these will be the good-old-days that they talk about fifty or sixty years hence. For their sake, I hope so.


At May 19, 2008 at 9:21 PM , Blogger Chuck Hudlow said...

I really enjoy the "details" you add, Glen. Keep it up, I'm sure everyone enjoys being reminded of 'how things were'.


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