Saturday, November 29, 2008

Narrow Gauge Railroad Pictures



Because I grew up in Heavener when the railroad was king I have always had an intense interest in trains.  Steam powered locomotives are of particular interest.  So when the opportunity arose to ride on a narrow gage train pulled by steam powered locomotives (two on the steepest grades) I jumped at the chance.

 Jessie, my son Michael, and I were touring southwest Colorado and wanted to ride the Durango and Silverton narrow gage but we couldn’t get tickets on the day we wanted.  So we drove on down to Chamas, New Mexico where the Cumbres and Toltec operates.  There we got tickets to ride over Cumbres pass into Antonito, Colorado.

 The track from Chamas to Antonito is so full of curves that old time gamblers used to bet on the direction they would be heading at various times during the ride. 

 Now there is no point to this blog other than to show the beautiful views of the trains.  So I hope you enjoy them.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Clay Banks and Frog Ponds

John just published a blog from back in the HOL days so I thought I would put one of my old ones on as well for those who didn't follow HOL.  It describes the "good old days" from the perspective of a "west side" boy.  

I lived on the Independence Road across the street from Crook and Ruth Duncan (Hartwell and Susie) next door to Owen and Deborah Davis (Jack and Jim) and the Whisenants (Clyde and Pearl).  The next house up the hill from the Davis house was the Hubert Adams (Sue) house.  Between the two houses the road had a high clay bank on the north side across from Holland and Agnes Wright’s (Tommy, Ann, and Butch) home.  Jim Davis and I often played there as children.  We would dig holes in the bank to make prisons for various hapless small creatures we captured.

One day when I was about five we were playing on the clay banks and caught a small snake about 18 inches long.  After playing with it for a while we took it back to the Davis house and hung it on a barbed wire fence.  We went into the house and proudly announced to Owen that we had caught a large worm and wanted to go fishing.  When Owen looked at it he almost had conniptions—our worm was a young rattlesnake.  The Lord protects fools and innocents.

On another occasion I was returning from the clay banks after my mother called me for dinner (remember, dinner was the mid-day meal).  As I ran down the overgrown path a snake struck at me and tangled in my pants leg.  Fortunately he did not reach my skin.  As I redoubled my speed down the path he came loose and slithered away, probably as scared as I was.  I don’t know what kind of snake he was but, to my young eyes, he seemed to be ten feet long.

The clay banks were also a player in the only spanking I ever received from my father.  It seems I was a little too slow in responding to his call for me to come home.  So he picked me up by the galluses (Fie on Bill Gates and Word—they keep telling me that there is no such word as galluses.) on my overalls (I was about five) and swatted me on the rear. I doubled up my legs so that when he released me I fell to the ground.  We went through this several times.  Later I went around telling people that every time I got up he knocked me down again.

The Frog Pond was the pond area about a half mile south of town where the road builders had taken fill dirt to work on Highway 59.  When I was a kid there were two separate ponds—a large one and a small one.  Now only a part of one of them is left since the highway was rerouted across the hill instead of around it.   (The Spanglers had a house and tavern at the foot of the hill on the old road.)  When I was about ten I often walked down the “old lane” by the “lower cemetery” towards Petros and went fishing in both the ponds.  The Liles family (Charles and Bing) lived down that lane.  I think I caught only one fish for all the times I went down there with my rod and reel using artificial lures.  The times I used live bait I was more successful and I caught and released a lot of what seemed to be big fish (but were probably no more than six or eight inches long).  One day while I was there at the smaller of the two ponds I saw a surface wave about three inches high race from one end to the other at a speed I estimated to be more than ten miles per hour.  It looked like something just under the surface was speeding rapidly along the length of the pond.  I don’t know what caused that wave to this day but always speculated that it was that “big ole catfish” that we all knew lived in the pond.  Years later I took my then ten year old son to fish in that pond and he caught a whole slew of perch.

Those were good times.


It doesn’t seem like it, but it’s been almost 10 years since I wrote a story for the Heavener Ledger as a tribute for my good friend Mike Mattison, who was ill and later passed away. I received as many requests for a copy of that story as any I ever have written. Gayle Wilson ( Butler ) asked me about it. Clyde Raines, Dennis West, Steve Mattison and others wanted a copy of it. I also later put it on the old Heavener On Line.

Here is the printed story, in its entirety:
Memories of ‘The Second Street Gang’
By John Inman

Visiting with a long-time, close friend, Mike Mattison, recently brought back many, many memories. He and I have been friends for over 45 years, so there plenty of experiences on which to reflect back.

I remember the time Mike’s uncle Don probably saved my life after I had somehow fallen into the basement of the First Baptist Church . Mike hollered and Don came running from across the street at Mrs. Mattison’s old house. Don’t ask how I fell in.

I remember the time – times, that is – Mike and I would always plot to “hurt” his younger brother, Steve, so he couldn’t follow us around.

I’m also sure practically every part of Heavener had its little “gangs.”

We were no different. The “ 2nd Street Gang” was some 27 or so strong, however, I probably can’t even remember everyone. From Tim Livesay at the top of street to Ray Gaskin at the bottom, there were a group of guys and a couple of girls in a four-block area. And the street was ours, baby.

Many a baseball and football game was played on that street. Many people knew better than to drive in that four-block span on a bright, sunny afternoon or Saturday during the summer, because there was always some of the “gang” playing our versions of the World Series or NFL championship.

There was no Super Bowl, yet.

Ever heard of three-step? It’s a football game any number can play. One member of one team throws or punts the ball to the other. If the ball is caught, it meant getting to take three running steps, then either throwing or punting the ball back. When the ball finally got past a certain point, somewhere down the block, a winner was declared.

Maybe the best punter was Mike Mattison. One of the best passers was Jerry Jack Stewart, who didn’t live on 2nd Street , but lived the next street over and was a provisional member. One of the best young players, as much as I hate to admit it, was Steve Mattison .

The game was played into the night sometime, as long as we could see the ball by the light of the corner streetlight.

Oh, we played hours upon hours of baseball in the middle of the street, usually in front of Russell Walker ’s house. John Harvey Edmunds would stand and watch us as he ate a pastry.

If we weren’t in the street, there was a good chance we were behind the old Phillips’ 66 station or hiding in old man Gear’s barn.

Bob Mobley and Bill Pearson were always good to help us build something with wood. They could usually build anything with wood. So could Joe Babcock in his family’s Hobby Shop. Even a boat!
We all hoped for just a few minutes of Gayle Wilson’s time. She lived across the street from me, so I had lots of visitors. We sat and dreamed of when Gayle might run from the back of her house where she was sunbathing to see who might be honking a horn as they drove by.

Jan Jackson, who lived two blocks up the street, had her share of visitors, too.
There were a zillion nights we spent sleeping on my front porch, too. Or, in the back yard and roaming the neighborhood after hours.

The list of stories is endless.

Here’s an attempt to name the “ 2nd Street Gang.” If I’ve forgotten any, please accept an apology. After all we’re talking the early 1960s.
Tim Livesay, John Locke, James Locke, Don Ryburn, Jan Jackson, Dennis West , Jerry West , Irb Wakefield, the Raines brothers, Clarence, Claude and Clyde, Len Menefee (Mattisons’ cousin who visited every summer from Houston), Russell Walker , John Harvey Edmunds, Bill Pitchford, Ray Gaskin , Gayle Wilson, David Grubbs, Jerry Jack Stewart and Butch Inman (no relation).
(John Inman is Sports Information Director for LeTourneau University and a free-lance sportswriter in Longview , TX )

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How do you say...?

When I worked at the newspaper, I used to write a column every year about the names of football players around East Texas . I’d scan the rosters and pick out unusual names.

I had a weekly column to write and was always looking for something, and the different names served a purpose, sort of like blogs do now. In other words, I’m always searching for things or thinking of something to write about. It’s a sports writer’s habit, I guess you could say. The only thing is, when I wrote something in the newspaper I had more of an audience, and not all my readers agreed with things I had to say.

And they usually let me know what they thought, too. When I wrote something about a player’s name being funny, it drew a parent’s comment. “What do you mean, making fun of my boy’s name? Or, is there something wrong with my boy’s name?” Geeze, lady, I was only trying to get your son’s name in print, I wasn’t trying to make fun of it.

One of my favorite’s was Carniverous Dews, who played for East Texas Baptist University . Another was James James. I mean, really, think about it. When he tried to tell anyone his last name, they would automatically say, “No, I don’t mean your first name.” Then the kid would say, “Sir, that is my last name.” Then the person would say, “Well, okay, what is your first name?” The kid would say, “I already told you, it’s James.” Names, to me, can certainly be funny.

The same way in the pro sports, too. Major League baseball, for instance. You always here about baseball being “ America ’s favorite pastime.” Nowadays, every major league has a Chin-Lung Ku, or Shiw-Soo Choo, Hogn-Chih Kuo or Hedecki Matsui, or Kazou Matsui or Cha Seung Baek playing for it. America ’s pastime? Are you sure it shouldn’t be called America ’s Foreign pastime, since there are so many with Japanese and/or Latino names playing now.

Or how about the Molina catching brothers trio of Jose (Yankees), Yadier (Cardinals) and Benji (SF Giants). I bet the Molina parents had fun coming up with their son’s first names. And don’t forget about Yordany Ramierz, Koyie Hill, Hirokie Kgroda, Mashahide Kobayashi, Yhency Brazoban and Yovani Gallardo. Fun times for a radio broadcaster, huh?

Then there’s the easy ones such as Yusmeiro Petit, Esmerling Vasquez or Endy Chavez. Don’t forget Yunel Escobar, Diori Hernandez, Asdrubal Cabera and Melky Cabrera. Pitchers for the Boston Red Sox have names like Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hidecki Okajima and the rival Yankees have Chein-Ming Wang to deal with. The above mentioned position of catchers also has Yorvit Torrealba and Dioner Navarro and Raul Chavez as partners.

How about infielders Akinon Iwamura and pitcher Jae Kuk Ryu on the same Tampa Bay Rays team that advanced to the World Series?

What happened to the good ole’ baseball names like Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all the Heavener bloggers.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Halloween - Grandkids Annual Event!

We are fortunate to have two of our children and their families living within about 1/2 hr drive.

Both of these families have a son and one of them has three daughters.

We live rural on 5 acres with a very large yard w/barns and horse pastures. I got rid of our horses last year.

Several years ago the two boys who were 7 & 8 at that time, came to me and asked if they could have their Halloween Party out here. I said, "sure" , they said well, who can we invite, I said, "you can invite anyone you want".

:) Mistake! - they both invited their classroom, their hockey team and anyone else they knew!

Something over 100 people showed up!

Our drive is about 100 yds long and we have a turn-around in front of our house and additional parking on the north side. It was completely covered with cars, on each side of the drive and any other place they could park.

Fortunately we were prepared, I had set up lights completely around the back yard and built a large fire for hot dogs and s'mores, and my wife and daughters converted the barn into a haunted barn. It had one stall with a headless horseman another with a gorilla and others with all kinds of weird stuff. Our butler, about 6' 2" with a bald head and weird ugly face was the greeter. When they opened the door, he would say in a weird deep voice - "so glaad you could coome the Master will be sooo happy to seee you!" he is motion activated, and had a deep weird laugh and other intriguing things to say.

The woods behind the back pasture was transformed into "haunted woods" with all kinds of spooks and stuff along the trail. We took them on a hay ride through the woods with my little tractor pulling a wagon filled with straw - we could put 8 - 10 kids in it.

We had several pinyata's (spell).

I had stacked about 40 bales of straw in the back part of the yard. That was the hit of the party!
They built tunnels and forts and totally destroyed that straw stack! We had straw everywhere you looked. Mercy!

Needless to say, the party was a big hit.

The next year, as soon as school started, their friends were asking if they were going to have the Halloween Party again. Soo it was already an Annual Event!

We did that every year until last year, when the boys decided they would rather go to the parties where the "girls" were. Mercy! Can you imagine that! (they are 14 & 15 now)

Along the way as they grew bigger, the little wagon didn't work anymore so we had a real big tractor and hay wagon come and take them for longer rides around the mile square.

Like I said, we didn't have it last year. So this year the girls, who are several years behind the boys, came and asked to have it for them. So of course, Pa B said, sure!

We did it again this year and the girls destroyed that straw stack just as good as the boys did!

I don't think we have the energy to do it again. Mercy! :)

We still have straw all over our back yard. oh well

p.s. After the 1st year we turned the front pasture into a parking lot with lights and boys directing traffic. We probably had 125 to 150 people each year.

It has been a lot of work - but we sure have enjoyed it!

OU, right now

My buddy George has asked me more than once which team I root for the most – the NY Yankees or OU Sooners.

It’s difficult to say. Depends on whether it’s baseball season or football season, I guess. I can recall the season Tommy McDonald played running back for the Sooners and I can also recall the season Mickey Mantle won the Triple Crown, so, it must have been in the mid-1950s when I started rooting for both. I have all my OU memorabilia in the living room and all my Yankees memorabilia in the office, so it’s no secret, really. I don’t mind admitting both are my favorites.

Of course, for a while the Yankees were already into the baseball playoffs when football season started. Since the Yankees didn’t make the baseball playoffs this year, I’ve probably concentrated on the Sooners a little more. Which brings us to the BCS football rankings. It seems there will always be the question of which team is ranked at the top, until we have some sort of playoff system. Right?

Well, this season it’s currently Alabama at the top, followed by Texas, Oklahoma and Florida, 1-2-3-4. Now, George is a big Longhorn fan and I’m still a big Sooners fan. We’ve had discussions, especially since Texas won the game at the Cotton Bowl earlier this year, dropping OU from the No.1 spot and making Texas No.1. Since then, Texas lost to Texas Tech and, as most of you know, unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere, OU just absolutely manhandled Texas Tech this past weekend. I felt great about it afterwards, then the BCS ranking came out Sunday and it was, like I said, Alabama-Texas-Oklahoma. I really thought it would be Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida and Texas. That’s neither here or there. OU, Texas and Texas Tech are tied atop of the Big XII standings, each with one game remaining.

OU has Oklahoma State, Texas has Texas A&M and Tech has Baylor. All three should win, but then that raises the question of which team is No.1 in the South Division and plays Missouri for the Big XII title in early December. Of course, George and I see it differently. He wants Texas to be in the title game and I want OU to be in it.

It’s a real dilemma.

Note: I’ve been fortunate to meet Mickey Mantle and interview him several times. I’ve also met Bud Wilkinson, the great Oklahoma coach when Tommy McDonald played, and interviewed him, too, but it was in a locker room situation, when he later coached the St. Louis Cardinals. Both are considered highlights in my professional life.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Muldrow and Glen Condren

Anonymous suggested that I tell the story of how one play beat Muldrow. With apologies to Anonymous it was more than one play, it was actually three plays. Three plays and the indomitable spirit of a young football team that was not going to be beat on this Friday night. Let me say now that the events that are about to take place on this blog actually took place almost 50 years ago, and my memory has never been all that good, so if things I relate do not line up with your memory lay the difference at my feet.

We were going to play Muldrow, on the Muldrow team was a big, fast, mean player named Glen Condren. When I say mean I do not infer that he played dirty, but he was tough and hit hard. He made All State that year and was recruited by OU, while at OU he was an All American. During his senior year at OU they were going to play Pittsburg and the great Tony Dorsett of later fame as the Dallas Cowboys running back. On the opening kickoff Glen sprinted down the field and tackled Tony Dorsett that was the only play that Tony took part in during that game. Glen signed to play professional football after his senior year at OU.

We had a play that we intended to use the first time Muldrow kicked off to us. We won the toss and elected to receive the kickoff. Our special play would be the first play of the game. Our line huddled on the line of scrimmage toward the left sideline with Bob Babcock on the end of the line nearest the ball. When we broke the huddle, the linemen turned and faced the end zone; Bob got over the ball and pitched the ball underhand to John Owens. The rule book does not specify that the ball must be snapped between the center’s legs, it just must be snapped in a continuous motion. The Muldrow coach was screaming for his team to get over in front of us, they just looked at him as if he had suddenly lost his mind. When John sprinted for the sideline the Muldrow team began to try to cut him off, but we were blocking them as they got near. John scored a touchdown. I cannot remember if we scored the extra point, but suffice it to say Heavener 6, Muldrow 0.

We kicked off to Muldrow and they began giving us a large dose of Glen Condren running the ball. When ever he got to the line of scrimmage we began tackling him, not one man, but two, three, and even four men were hitting him and holding on, whatever it took to get him down. Finally they did not make a first and ten and we had the ball. Muldrow played a defense with two safeties and two cornerbacks, usually designated as the Oklahoma 5-2. We had a pass play that sent our two ends, Jerry West and Jim Scrivner, straight down the field, at ten yards depth they each broke outside toward the flag taking Muldrow’s safeties with them. Our right halfback, Tony Gregory, run exactly between the safeties and Jerry Johnston hit Tony with a pass. Heavener 12, Muldrow 0, we had run two offensive plays and scored two touchdowns.

We again kicked off to Muldrow and again finally got them stopped and had the ball for the third time. Anticipating that Muldrow would change their defense to stop the easy touchdown we had just scored, we called a companion pass to the last one Jerry threw. Sure enough when we broke the huddle Muldrow had a safety and two halfbacks. The pass we had called had our right end, Jim Scrivner, sprinting through the safety, Tony Gregory, our right halfback, sprinted through the defensive halfback. The safety followed Jimmy and the halfback followed Tony, Jerry West our left end crossed the field shallow and broke into the void created by the defenders following their men. Jerry Johnston hit Jerry West for a touch down. Heavener 18, Muldrow 0, we had run three offensive plays and scored three touchdowns.

The second half we kicked off to Muldrow and they attacked us with a vengeance, inexorably moving ever nearer to our goal line. When the horn blew signaling the end of the third quarter they were right on our goal line, their first play of the fourth quarter was a touchdown.

I think with that touch down a certain truth began sinking in; Heavener three plays and three touch down, Muldrow one quarter and one touch down. Muldrow knew they were not going to win, Heavener knew we were not going to lose.

That was the way it ended; Heavener 18 and Muldrow 6. This was one of my proudest moments in a long coaching career.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Pronunciation Lesson

At the end of my first five games as Heavener’s football coach, as a matter of fact it was my first stint as anyone’s head coach, we had won five games. The Tulsa World had us rated in the top ten of our class. Life was good; it was beginning to look like I could be a success at this job of being a head football coach.

I was feeling my way with the players, I did not want to be seen as a martinet, but at the same time I did not want to be the players buddy. Being friendly was a given, it was not too many years since being a player myself and I liked the feeling that the coaches liked me; I wanted our players to like me. But the coach had to be respected as the leader of the team, the person in charge, the man whose decisions were obeyed. You gave respect and you got respect returned.

Anyway, our sixth game of the season was Spiro. Spiro had a good team, but it was certainly a game we could win. Late in the fourth quarter our senior fullback Claude Raines, broke lose on a draw play in the fourth quarter and scored the winning touchdown. Or what would have been the winning touchdown if an official had not called the play back because of a clip far back up field. The game ended and the two teams wound up in a tie. Back in those days if two teams wound up with the same score at the end of a regular season game the results of the game went into the books as a tie.

The next week we were going to play Wilburton. They may not have been the best team we would play, but they certainly were the fastest. If memory serves me correctly they won the hundred yard dash, the 220 yard dash, and the 440 yard relay in the state track meet the next spring. You could say that they were not lacking in speed.

When we had a scouting report on the next team we were going to play I would have it ran off so that each player would get a copy in our team meeting before practice on Monday. With just two coaches it was not a given that we would have a report, but I think we had one on Wilburton. After passing out the scouting report I would go over the salient points on the team we were going to play. Wilburton had in the past recruited Italian miners to work in the mines around Wilburton, and as a matter of fact the mines extended as far west as McAlister. One of Wilburton’s best player was a young man named Giacomo.

I pronounced his name as Gee-a-como and the room erupted in laughter. When the laughter subsided a red faced coach asked, “what was so funny?”

After a pregnant pause some one answered, “Coach, his name is pronounced Jack-a-mo.”
Well, if you can’t laugh at yourself you need not laugh at anyone else.

We lost the last four games of our season. Whether I was going to be a successful head coach still had to be proved. The next season took care of any fears that I may have harbored along those lines. The young men who played that year proved that I could coach and they certainly proved that they could play.

Build it and they'll come (blog, that is)

Well, we’ve got 18 signed up now to blog. We’re slowly but surely, getting there.
This recruiting business is hard work. I’m satisfied with the ‘players’, so far but we need more of them. And the more players we add, Glen, the more comments we'll get. Chuck has talked to Don Bentley about blogging. Chuck and Don were good friends when they lived in Mesquite and Chuck has told me some of Don’s stories used to crack him up. Personally, I can’t wait to read some of them.

I’ve e-mailed Jerry West , Dennis West , Jerry Johnston and Bud Turman , to name a few. Jerry West was once in a movie, I think, with Chad whathisname. You know the guy. I’ve seen him in other things, most recently in the sit com, Just Shoot Me. Dennis West was in the military and probably has some good “war” stories to share with us. Jerry Johnston is an athletic director at Poteau after coaching there for a long time. So, he should have some stories for us, too.

Bud Turman is on the teaching staff at Tulsa CC and his wife, Beverly, is from Heavener, too. They both are interested in this blogging thing. Bud Thompson was in the class of ’59 and always, as long as I’ve known him has something funny to say. I’ve also asked Carl Twidwell , who is 80-something years-old now, and will be remembered by bloggers, Bill Hinds and Glen, as well as Bud Thompson, since they all played football in the ’50s at Heavener. Another I’ve asked is Hal Dowden , from that same Twidwell-coached bunch, and served as a long-time official (referee) of major college football.

We’ve welcomed Bob Collins , the football coach following Twidwell and continued Heavener’s tradition of strong football teams. Sadly, I never played for Twidwell or Collins, but coach Twidwell lived across the street from me and I remember his kids, David and Carla. I went back for the reunion with Collins and his players earlier in this decade and had a great time. I witnessed the football games in the early ’60s and remembered many of the players.

Jerry West , Jerry Johnston, Chuck and Don played on those teams. However, Craig Hall deserves a lot of credit. He stared the old Heavener On Line and started this Heavener blogger thing, too. I’m just trying to help him build on it.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It ain't fun gittin' old :)

Hey John & All,

I finally got this password stuff figured out (I hope).

It's been busy for me, I'm still working 4 days a week, and my wife works for the Monroe County Intermediate School District, she was elected president of her Union and has been in negotiations for the past 6 mos. Mercy! It has sure been an extra pressure to deal with.

I've been trying to get some firewood in before I am unable to get back in the woods.
We have a little snow on the ground now and it has been down in the 20's so I've been using the firewood I cut.

I see you guys have been busy on the blogs so now I have a lot of reading to catch up on.

I'll see if I can store this site so I don't loose it again - its the password thing that got in my way.

I'm watching Ohio State beat Michigan and am looking forward to the Oklahoma/Texas Tech game later on.

Thanks for the help John.

Bill Hinds

Still another Heavenerite signs in

My name is Paul Riggins, most people from Heavener remember me as P.A. Since my dad was also Paul, it was just easier to be known as P.A. John Inman sent me an invite to this blog. I told him I have never been involved in a blog but will give it try. I graduated in 1965 and went to junior college at Wilburton for two years. At the end of my second year, I received my draft notice in the mail. Instead of being drafted, I thought I would do the smart thing and enlist. The only branch I could get into that fast was the Army. I was in the Army for four years spending time in Gardner, Ks; Dillsboro, In; Korea; and Fort Sill. When I got out, I went back to school in Durant for two years. I went to work for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission two days before I graduated. I received my award for working thirty five years with the state this last May. I'm married to Sharon who grew up in Oklahoma City. I have two sons and one daughter. I have an eleven year old grandson from my oldest son and a eighteen month old granddaughter with my youngest son. My daughter is still not married and I'm looking for her a husband. I have lived in Edmond, Ok for the last thirty three years.

A couple of days ago, I went out the front door and forgot to lock it when I came back in. My wife discovered the front door unlocked the next morning and could not believe how I had put us in danger by leaving the door unlocked all night. This made me think about growing up in Heavener. My parents never locked a door to the house. I can't remember if we even locked the house when we went on vacation. I never had a key to the house even after I went off to college in Wilburton. My dad drove this old truck with build in compartments all over the back of the truck where he kept his tools and electrical supplies. The truck was never locked. This was such a safe and wonderful time to grow up as a kid. Something my grandchildren will never know.

Pat's Worm

Pat's Worm

We, the Collins family, lived in a three bedroom, one bathroom house just across the street from the Heavener gymnasium which was directly east of our home. The Collins children, Bob, Sharon, and Pat had a good sized yard to play in and in those days if the weather was good they spent most of their free time outside. Bob loved games, sports, and physical activity; he had many friends that shared his interest and he was usually around nearby engaged in whatever activity captured his interest at the moment. Sharon, like all girls, or at least the ones I knew about, was usually engaged with little girl activities; dolls, jacks, hopscotch, and such. Pat, the youngest child of the Collins clan loved bugs and small unusual animals, like the horned toad his mother made him take outside. Pat was forever capturing bees, beetles, wasps and other creepy crawlers which he kept in jars with holes punched in the cap so the poor captive could breathe. When his interest waned in whatever he had captured he turned them loose. He sometimes got stung by the ungrateful winged creature, but his interest was not permanently damaged.

We had shrubs growing along the front of the house and one day Pat found a big, green worm, or larva, eating the leaves of one of them. Pat got a half gallon jar our of the house, cut the branch the worm was eating the leaves from and placed the worm, branch, and leaves into the jar. He screwed on the lid and punched some holes in the lid to provide air. The worm and his jar was transferred into the house and placed on a shelf under the television set The worm continued eating the leaves, and Pat replenished the branches regularly as the worm worked up and down the branch. The worm kept getting larger, fatter, and more disgusting looking. By now all of the kids enjoyed watching Pat’s worm eat. It was a toss up whether the television, or the worm, got most of their attention.

One day Pat came outside to me and said, “Daddy come look at my worm, something is wrong with him.” The worm had transformed himself into a cocoon, with silky thread surrounding the worm and attaching itself to the stalk in the jar,

“Pat,” I said, “The worm is going through a natural process. Next spring the worm will come out of the cocoon and be a butterfly.” Pat looked at me skeptically. I tried to explain to him how the worm had changed into the cocoon, and now the cocoon was becoming a chrysalis, or a butterfly. Here I was, a football coach, trying to explain a process I didn’t understand myself.

The cocoon was inert and we all lost interest in watching. If nothing visible was going on we it was like watching water evaporate, all of us had more interesting things to look at. As time passed the worm, (cocoon), remained on the shelf under the television. We all forgot about the cocoon, except perhaps Pat. I will bet he looked at him at least once every day through the winter.

One glorious spring Saturday morning Pat came outside to me and said, “Daddy, the worm is coming out of his cocoon.” Sure enough the cocoon was moving, some thing was going to come out. “Let’s take the jar outside so if a moth, or butterfly, comes out of the cocoon it can fly away and spend the third stage of its life outside where nature intended it to live.”

“Okay,” said Pat. He went back into the house and brought the jar outside and sat it down on the sidewalk in front of the porch steps. He unscrewed the lid and took it off of the jar, we sat down on the steps to watch what was going to take place.

It was definitely an insect of some kind that slowly crawled up the stem of the shrub that in the fall had leaves that the worm ate. The insect stopped at the rim of the jar and wings began to unfold. In just a while the wings seemed to stiffen, not to be soft and without form as they were at their first appearance. We were watching the birth of a moth. Not one of us said a word; we were just awed at the spectacle that we were seeing unfold before our eyes. The wings began to beat gently and with a lurch the moth took flight. We four were not the only spectators at the grand event, the moth had not got four feet above the jar before a bird swooped in and ate Pat’s moth.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Radio Protocol

Chuck, you must have a million of these kinds of stories.  Let's hear some of them.

Two weeks ago Jessie and I took an aerial jaunt to view the fall colors on the mountains just to the east of our home.  I use the Tullahoma Regional Airport, an un-towered field with two 5,000 foot runways (18-36 and 06-24).  As is my custom, I made a couple of touch-and-goes before leaving the area.  On the second, I noticed a Cessna 172 sitting on the hold line for 36 as I turned on the downwind leg.  As I proceeded downwind he remained in place so I tried to contact him on the CTAF (Common Traffic Advisory Frequency). 

“Cessna  _______ (call signs omitted to protect the innocent) holding for 36 at Tullahoma, say your intentions.”

Getting no response, I thought that perhaps he was listening to the AWOS for wind, etc. information prior to taking the runway and would be back on the CTAF in a moment.  Just then, another airplane entered the pattern downwind behind me. 

Keeping an eye on the Cessna, I turned base and then final, making announcements of each move as good protocol calls for at a small un-towered airport.  As I started down short final he was still there and still had made no response, so I figured he didn’t have a radio (and is not required to do so) and planned to be ready to execute a balked landing and go-around (as I always am) if he pulled out in front of me.

Once I had touched down and converted to takeoff mode, I put him out of my mind.  As I climbed out, I heard the pilot of the plane behind me announcing final and asking the Cessna for its intentions.  He received no response, just as I had not.

Thinking the Cessna had no radio, I called the airplane behind me and said, “Cirrus _______, I don’t know what he intends to do.  I guess he hasn’t got a radio.”

Then the Cessna piped up, “That makes three of us.”

Was he listening the whole time?  Did he have an intermittent radio?  Was he having difficulties getting his checks done?  Was he a student and just unaware of the added margins of safety that come from good radio protocol?  I’ll never know because he was a transient and was long gone by the time I returned from the autumn viewing.

From leaves to Yankees

After reading Chuck’s blog about leaves, it prompted me to ‘think’ about writing about leaves in my yard and what I go through to get rid of them. Cynthia can attest to the fact that I have to sweep the leaves from the garage every time we raise the garage door and the wind blows a few of them in. But, no, I started thinking, how that’s nothing more than only looking for something to write a blog about.

There’s surely something else with which I can bore my blog readers? Then, I came up with something a little closer to the heart. Like, the New York Yankees. Yeah, that’s it. Since I’m obviously searching for something to blog about anyway, the Yankees it will be.

So, do you realize the season begins in only 145 days, or close to it? Yep, another major league baseball season opens in early April. A new Yankee Stadium opens April 3-4 with exhibitions game against the Chicago Cubs. No, I won’t be there, either. Just like the old Yankee Stadium, I won't get to see the new one. That doesn’t stop me from being a Yankee fan, however.

The latest Yankees news is that Mike Mussina is retiring and that Hal Steinbrenner is going to take a more active role in the ownership of the Yankees. It won’t be only Hank who is replacing father George. Hal is more of a business man, than Hank, who is more like George in that he’s somewhat outspoken.

General manager Brian Cashman has said he intends to get the Yankees back in the playoffs again. Everyone knows the way to do that is with pitching and other general managers know that the Yankees can certainly afford it. With Mussina officially out of the picture, now the Yankees have to outbid everyone for lefty C.C. Sabathia and possibly add another starter, say A.J. Burnett. Both will be around $150 million, or so. (did I mention that the Yankees are getting ready to open a ‘new’ Yankee Stadium and they need to fill it)

That’ll give them Chein-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain to go along with maybe Andy Pettitt, if he decides to stay in New York , rather than go back to the Houston Astros. I’m convinced Pettitt can no longer be an ‘ace,’ because he would be only good enough to be the fifth starter, especially if the Bombers bring Sabathia and Burnett aboard. And, don’t forget. Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes will be back and could figure into the starting rotation.

They have traded for Nick Swisher from the Chicago White Sox to take Jason Giambi’s place in the place on the field and/or at designated hitter. Hideke Matsui will be back to man left field, Xavier Nady, the slugger brought over from the Pirates, will be in right field, and a combination of Johnny Damon-Melky Cabrera-Brett Gardner will return to center. A-Rod will be back at third base and can resume his chase to become the major league’s greatest home run hitter, Derek Jeter will be at shortstop, Robbie Cano at second base and Jorge Pasada behind the plate as catcher or at designated hitter, if they decide to use Jose Molina full time.

So, there’s your off-season analysis of the Yankees, for anyone that cares, and I have another blog written.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


I love the Fall. It's one of my favorite times of the year....second only to Winter. As long as I can remember, I've always looked forward to that time of the year when the leaves begin to change color and the mornings have a hint of coolness to them.

One of the benefits of living where I do is that in order to visit my relatives in LeFlore County, I must drive through Northeast Texas,
Southeastern Oklahoma, and part of the Ouachita Mountains. On my last trip up there a couple of weeks ago, I could almost see the season change during the 4-hour drive. When I left the house, the trees still had some green leaves along with many colored ones, the grass was still green (mostly). By the time I arrived in LeFlore County, the grass was brown, and most of the leaves were reaching the last stages of their life.

But as much as I love Fall color, I'm learning that there's a down side to this season that I'll have to get accustomed to. When I returned home from the above mentioned trip, I found my yard completely covered with leaves and pine needles. Plus, the roof of my house looked as if it had a thatched roof instead of composition shingles (well, maybe not quite THAT bad...but it WAS covered).

Now I know you other country living guys and girls are probably very familiar with such things, but I'm not used to it. Just a day or two before I left for Oklahoma, I had removed 8 large yard bags of leaves from my yard. It looked great after I finished. But that was before the leaves REALLY began to fall...they had just started. What I found when I returned didn't compare.

Well, I worked all afternoon today removing pine needles and leaves from my roof and gutters and blowing and raking leaves from underneath the shrubs and from around the fences. Yesterday, just blowing the pine needles and leaves from my driveway left a foot-high pile on each side. Tomorrow, I'll commence to hauling off this mess and prepare for the next onslaught. That's right, there's still more up there.

Another former Heavener resident signs in

John Inman invited me to join this and I finally got around to signing up. Having never been a blogger, I don't have a clue what I'm supposed to do but I bet someone will tell me. As I look at the list of people on this blog, I know lots of them and they know me. Don't be bashful, teach this novice what to do.

I won't commit to how often I'll write anything or even how often I'll sign on, but at least I've made the initial move.

For those who have lost track of me, I live in Marietta, GA, a northern suburb of Atlanta, and retired from a 34 year career at IBM several years ago. In my retirement I have become an author, an editor/publisher, and a strong advocate for today's Army and veterans. I am heavily involved in the Iraq war (since it started) and am a regular volunteer at the Atlanta airport USO where I greet troops coming in on R&R from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait.

Enough for now - hopefully John Inman or someone will tell me how to find this blog spot again so I can sign on and check it out.

Look into my eyes

As one who’s “been there and done that”, I can wholeheartedly say, here’s a word of warning. Get regular eye check-ups. It may save your life.

Shortly after Cynthia and I tied the knot -- getting married was absolutely the best thing in the world that ever happened to me; and I’m not saying that just so Cynthia can read it -- she talked me into going to see Dr. Smith (an optometrist) for an eye check-up and he detected a problem in my eyes, telling me I should see another doctor (internist) for a physical exam. He even suggested Dr. Ball might be a good one to see. That was in early September, 2003.

What Dr. Ball saw eventually led to a heart catheterization (this was Dec. 12, 2003) and before I knew it, I was scheduled for a heart by-pass. Every artery was 95% or more blocked. They had wanted to do it the next morning but first I wanted to see my daughter graduate from the University of Texas at Tyler on the 13th. Cynthia & I spent our first anniversary preparing for my surgery the next morning. On Dec. 15 I had six by-passes. I hadn’t felt a thing prior to that because of the diabetes he also diagnosed. No chest pain, no shortness of breath, no warning whatsoever. Clearly, though, I was a mess.

So less than four months after seeing Dr. Ball, I under went the knife. For the next several months, I was laid up in bed and Cyn was forced to drive me everywhere I had to go – mostly to doctor appointments and cardiac rehab.

All because of an eye examination. It showed blockage in the blood vessels in my eyes and Dr. Smith realized something was terribly amiss.

The by-pass surgery led to a long rehab, which, in turn, led to rigorous workouts at the wellness center. When I had my surgery, I weighed about 265 pounds, depending on how many cheeseburgers I had eaten that day. After months and months of recuperation and rehab, I had gotten down to 197 pounds, nearer my playing weight, give or take a few pounds, at good ole’ Heavener High.

By the time we took a vacation to Colorado , with Cynthia’s daughter and her husband, in the fall of 2004, I was able to climb around on the rocks at Garden of the Gods, and take the train from Durango to Silverton, or do whatever I pleased. In other words, I was back to normal. Or as close as I ever had been since the good ole’ days at Heavener High.

Now, I have regular check-ups, including my eyes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Better safe than sorry

With only the little knowledge of earthquakes I have, it’s easily understandable why John Council would say he’s involved in a neighborhood earthquake preparedness program.

Council, a Heavenerite, lives in southern California where an earthquake could hit at any time. And you probably have heard the old saying, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Or, you can never be too safe.

I’ve been in southern California when an earthquake struck once before. I mentioned in another blog that I had my family in Anaheim , at Disneyland in 1986, when a mild earthquake hit. We were suddenly awakened one morning. We didn’t know what was happening at the time, but it didn’t take us long to get out of the motel in the open.

Everything shook for only a few seconds, but we were “shaken up,” so to speak. We found out later that the epicenter of the quake was a few miles off the coast of San Diego . Not anywhere near where we were, but scary, nonetheless.

One comment Craig had on another of my blogs concerned turning on the television to watch the World Series game between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A’s in 1989. Just minutes before the game started, however, an earthquake hit. The TV showed sights and sounds in San Francisco and the devastation from the Oakland Bay Bridge which had collapsed. Those were some horrible sights.

Cynthia and I have been to Oakland , and she told me about the opening for a class she was teaching. As lead instructor she always has someone from the local office come in to address the class. Among the items she asks them to cover is “emergency procedures”. She was half-listening until the woman said, “In the event of earthquake…”

That was the first time it had crossed her mind that earthquakes were a possibility! The speaker now had her FULL attention. “…you are much safer inside the building, since it is on wheels”.

Actually it was more like rollers and would move and sway with the tremor to minimize or avoid damage. Can you imagine a building being on rollers? Cynthia couldn’t. She says give her a Texas Tornado any day!

Actually anywhere you chose to live seems to have some type of natural disaster. Whether it’s hurricanes along the coast or tornados along Tornado Alley, mudslides, ice storms, floods, we’re all fortunate to have fellow citizen’s who plan, encourage and assist us in being prepared.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Autumn in Tennessee

Early on Thursday of this past week, I was walking to my barn to feed my dogs when my eyes were drawn to the ground on which I was walking.  We live in a rural environment and have only three neighbors within a half-mile radius.  There is a profusion of trees on the land near our house and their leaves had formed a carpet of extraordinary colors and hues.  Hickories made the bright yellow parts and maples contributed a golden glow.  Oak leaves of right red to exotic shades of bronze filled in between.  Other leaves from gum trees, dogwoods, and even a few sassafras trees contributed to the wonderful colors that covered the floor of the forest on the trail leading to the barn.  Never did even a Persian prince have a carpet so lovely to walk on!

As I looked anew at the beauty of the leaves on the ground, I also looked upward to the trees above.  Towering from forty to sixty feet above me they contained even more leaves ready to descend as fall draws to a close.  So I just stopped and stood still for a few minutes.  The dogs that had been following me could wait for their food for just a little longer.

Suddenly the dogs took off running, baying at the top of their voices.  An incautious squirrel had chosen that moment to scamper across the ground with an acorn in his mouth.  As the dogs gave chase I was amused, knowing that there was no way they could catch a healthy squirrel.  He sped up the trunk of a large white oak and paused no more than fifteen feet off the ground on the first limb.  I don’t know “squirrel language” but I’ll bet that if I did I couldn’t include what he was saying in this blog.  Then again, maybe he was just voicing the squirrel equivalent of “Nnnyyaahh!  Nnnyyaah!  You can’t catch me!”

As I continued my walk to the barn, the penetrating “Screee! Screee!” of a hawk came loud and clear.  I could not see him because of the thick forest but I knew he was circling in the early morning air.

The only sounds were those of the soft wind in the trees and the denizens of the forest around me.  It was a magical moment.

Recruiting bloggers

Recruiting someone to write blogs is almost as exhausting as writing them. I spent most of one morning this week encouraging Heavenerites I thought would be good “candidates” to write them, and most of the afternoon and part of another morning answering the ones who replied to me.

We need more folks to write blogs and/or comment on the ones that are writing. Glen and I both are writing what we can, but would like to see more.

So far, I’ve emailed quite a few which I considered good choices for writing and given them the reasons I thought they would be. Some agreed, but others have been too busy.
• Ray Gaskin . He used to be a television broadcaster in Dallas and is now teaching journalism at Southeastern State University in Durant. I haven’t heard back from him.
• John Council . He already is on the Heavener Blogs list, but he has been involved in some type of neighborhood earthquake preparedness deal. He lives in southern California , so I understand the need for folks in that area to be as prepared as possible. I figured he would be a good choice, because he was a pilot in the marines and told me a story once before about landing in Japan and the air traffic controller was none other than Larry Wisdom, another Heavenerite.
• Roger Cagle. He is already on the blogging list. He lives in London and, like me, a ’65 grad. I thought he would be a good choice since he lives in another country and I know I would be interested in life over there. He said he had tried to log on, but he invitation has expired. I sent him another invitation.
• Jana Manifold. She lives in Heavener and works at the library there, so I figured she knows everyone in town and might have some good stories to share, but she is much too busy with projects going on at the library. I understand.
• Bill and Lynne Pitchford. Bill was very interested in re-starting Heavener On Line and Lynne has been very involved in the Class of ’66, so much so she compiled a book for the class reunion, much like I did for the Class of ’65, a few years back. Her’s was much more advanced than mine, though. I haven’t heard back from either of them.
• Anita Robertson Norman. Her dad owned the OTASCO store in Heavener, so I figure she has plenty of memories to share. She agreed, so I’ve put her name on the blogs list and already sent her an invitation. She just needs to start blogging.
• John Locke. He lived on West 2nd Street and went to Northeastern State University , like I did, plus he worked on the railroad, so I figured he might have plenty of stories to share, too. He said he wanted to think about it but would like to see what has been written. I sent him an invitation to blog, too, so he could read others that have been written.
Others, such as Colin Kelley, Chuck Hudlow , Bill Hinds and Craig Hall , have already written some. I encouraged them to do more blogging.
I have also tried to encourage other Heavenerites such as Jim Patterson (he works at the University of Texas-Arlington and has promised to write some); Mickey Wynn , who lives near New Orleans and survived the recent hurricane, Katrina; Bob Collins, who coached in Heavener and was a frequent contributor to HOL (he lives in Tulsa now and I haven’t gotten in touch with him just yet); Pat Burroughs , who lives in Heavener and was also a frequent contributor to HOL (her email address has changed so I need to get a new one); David Hinds (he too is a ’65 grad and lives in Chili. He already blogs and asked how his could be added to the Heavener blogging list.)
So, I’m not giving up, Glen.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Geneology Hobby

When my brother Wayne graduated from HHS and enroled at OSU he applied to the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for financial assistance . He was informed that he would have to document that he was at least one-fourth Indian. Since we are Choctaw Indians, the only acceptable documentation was to prove that he was a direct descendant of an Indian enrolled on the "Dawes Rolls". Wayne soon found out that our Grand Mother was indeed on the rolls but that she was enrolled as 3/4 Choctaw which meant that her grand children would be 3/16 and therefore not eligible for the college tuition assistance. Well that didn’t deter Wayne. He got a job in Stillwater and paid his own way through school graduating with honors.
Although I didn’t do much about it back then, it did start me to wanting to know more about my ancestry and over the years I’ve been able to document quite a lot about who my ancestors were- both Indian and non-Indian. One of the very helpful resources was the WPA Pioneer History project. Many Oklahomans were interviewed by WPA historians and the transcripts of their interviews are available. Some of them are even on the internet. Many citizens of Heavener and thereabouts were interviewed. Check and see if your ancestor was interviewed by visiting and click on the INDIAN PIONEER PAPERS INDEX.
To read about my Great Grand Mother Lily Sexton clik on the S’s.
Happy Hunting.
PS I have been able to document that the :Dawes Rolls were indeed wrong but that does not matter. Whether right or wrong, what the Dawes Rolls contain have been determined to be "law" and therefore to be right; even if they are not "right".
PS/PS The tuition rules have now changed and now it is not up to the Bureau of Indian Affairs but rather each individual tribe determines itself who to give tuition assistance to. My own grand children who are 3/64 have been able to get tribal assistance but mostly they get "Grampa Assistance".

Monday, November 10, 2008

Where were you when...?

Well, the people have spoken, Barack Obama will be the 44th President. It’s one of the biggest news-making events of my lifetime, certainly, but it got me thinking of other big news events in my life and where I was at the time of those events.

Like the explosion of the shuttle Columbia in January 2003. I was on my way to Heavener and stayed in a hotel in Idabel the night before. Cynthia and I got up early and I looked out the window around 8:00 that morning to the south only to see trails of smoke in the sky. It had exploded only seconds before, ironically over east Texas and Tyler . Scott Lieberman, a Tyler cardiologist and a local photographer, became famous world-wide when newspapers, publications and television ran his photos.

I have witnessed other events on television, too.
• I was watching the Ed Sullivan Show on TV the night the Beatles made there U.S. debut in September 1964. I had been out in the back yard playing with a football, when my mother called me in.
• The day Elvis Presley died, I was in the newsroom at the Longview News-Journal. I saw the very first photos from Memphis , Tenn. come over the newswire. I remember Ted Leach telling me how Elvis had been in Longview once with the Louisiana Hayride.
• I was in the same newsroom watching TV the day Challenger exploded after liftoff from Cape Canaveral in 1986. That was a horrendous sight.
• I was home and had just turned on the TV before going to work at LeTourneau University September 11, 2001 when the collapse of the first twin tower in New York City happened. At first I didn’t realize what it was, then the second tower was hit by an airplane and began to topple. I immediately called Cynthia (we weren’t married yet) to tell her to turn on the TV, that she wouldn’t believe what was going on. I went on to work and only a few moments later, there was a campus-wide prayer vigil.
• How can I forget where I was the day JFK was assonated in Dallas ? I was in Coach Perry’s economics class when Joe Babcock came around informing everyone it had just been announced on the radio a little after lunch, Nov. 22, 1964. And, I was in California out driving a new car around and heard on the radio that Bobby Kennedy, JFK’s brother, had been assonated in LA.
• Reggie Jackson’s three home runs in the 1977 World Series. (you knew I had to sneak in something about the Yankees, didn’t you?) Again, I was in the news room at LN-J, waiting to get the results on the wire to put it on the sports page.
• I was also in the news room, by myself, although we hadn’t yet put the ‘paper to bed’ and the death of Bear Bryant, legendary Alabama football coach, came across the wire. I quickly retrieved the photos and the story, and got in the next morning’s issue. Of course, it was big-time news, and I was just lucky to still be at the office after letting every one else go for the night.
• The Vietnam War. I was there first-hand to see it, from Dec. 1969 until Dec. 1970. Believe me, it was gruesome. It ended in 1975, when the U.S. withdrew all the soldiers.
• Hurricanes Katrina and Ike. I was on my way back from in Heavener and had stopped in Idabel for gasoline when the tail end of Katrina came through. Man did it rain and the wind blow! I’m just glad I didn’t have to go through it. Many people did, such as Mickey Wynn, who lived just north of New Orleans . With Ike, it blew through Tyler earlier this year and again the wind and rain were pretty amazing. It’s hard to imagine the force with which it hit Galveston and Houston . Cynthia and I have close friends (Steve Mattison and Len Menefee) living in Houston and they were without electricity for days.
• In December 2004, a tsunami hit Thailand and killed thousands upon thousands of people. I could only imagine the devastation it caused, and saw pictures and video on TV. That was a terrible sight, and I certainly am thankful we, or someone I know, didn’t have to experience such a disaster.

There are others, but unfortunately I can’t remember where I was or when they happened.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

There’s something wonderfully special about being in the woods when the day breaks especially when you are a ten year old boy and you are there with your Grandpa "helping" him run his trap lines.
The crickets and tree frogs along with the hoot owls had long ceased their evening serenades. The wind was but a light whisper. The air was crisp and cool . The ear flaps on the old cap Granny Kelley had insisted that I wear were tied beneath my chin and along with the extra layers of clothes I was wearing I pretty near kept from shivering; yet, I was excited to be there because I knew that doing outdoor things like this was the kind of things us Kelleys did. The path we were following was lined with different kinds of trees and the closer we got to the nearby stream the thicker they seemed to grow. I knew the stream we were headed to was Rock Creek. It was only a quarter mile or so from Pa and Granny’s house to the creek and I had been down there other times while on a hike or to fish but this was my first trip this early in the morning and to go with Pa to check his traps. Rock Creek heads a few miles southwest of Hodgen and meanders its way northward between the hills until it reaches the valley south of the hill that crests between Hodgen and Conser - just down the hill from where Francis "Skunk" King lived - where the creek turns due east aways then curves to the north and flows on to where it joins the mighty Poteau River a little west of the highway bridge. The part of the creek we were going to is probably about one-half a mile from where Rock Creek runs into Poteau River. Rock Creek there is usually neither wide or deep but there are pools that are wider and deeper and these are the places where Pa Kelley would have his traps hidden. A short distance from the creek Pa stopped and told me that we would wait there until the sun came up. Soon the serrated line of the tree tops to the east became lined with gold and the breeze stirred a little more. The palpable calm of the woods lessened as the brightness increased and day noises brought the woods to life. The squawking crows were the first to herald the new day with a variety of song birds soon joining the chorus. The motion of Pa’s arm rising slowly with his finger pointing toward the branches of nearby hickory tree brought my focus to two squirrels as they chased one another hither and thither from one limb to another with greater agility than any circus acrobats could ever muster. With our way now clearly lighted Pa led the way on down to the creek where he checked the first of his traps. At each site where there was a trap hidden, Pa would point out the tracks that different animals had made during the night. The most common were tracks of "coons" , "possums", skunks, and deer, but he also showed me where the weasels, muskrats, and fox had come down to the creek. The traps that morning didn’t have but a couple of catches but that didn’t seem to bother Pa Kelley much. He told me that he would be taking the traps up soon. It was late in the season and before long the furbearers would be shedding their winter fur. The winter’s trapping had been good and he would soon be ready to take his tally of skins to sell. With my "help" Pa soon had the two possums skinned and the hides rolled tightly into neat bundles which he put into the large pockets of his jacket. Our strides back to the house were somewhat quicker than when we came down the path to the creek. Granny Kelley had promised to have hot biscuits ready when we got back - you know the kind that you can stick your thumb into and pull it out and fill in the hole with molasses or black berry jelly. All children should have times to remember like the one that I had that morning. I am glad that I have more than a few.

Friday, November 7, 2008

How 'bout them Cowboys

Bet you thought this was going to be about the Dallas Cowboys, didn’t you? Think again, Cowboy. The subject here is my grandson, Brandon.

Remember that name: Brandon Cook. If that isn’t a wide receiver’s name I don’t know one iota about football. Better change that, that’s a football player’s name, because I can’t be sure he’s going to make a wide receiver. That’s the name of a star, be it at RB or WR or DB.

He’s just nine-years-old, but he has all the signs of being a star. Speed, moves, want-to, desire … you know, all those intangibles.

He already has his mom and dad on his side, too. He’s re-decorated his room, from the floor to the ceiling. I mean Karen’s re-painted the walls to match the Dallas Cowboys, he’s got a Cowboys bed spread and, best of all, he keeps his bed made, or, at least, he had it made when I went by there last weekend. He has a photo of Tony Romo, who just happens to have the most famous pinky finger in the NFL these days. Karen even put a framed picture of Troy Aikman, which, uh, hm, I was fortunate enough to get autographed for her, on the wall for him.

She painted the walls silver and blue, separated by a neat Cowboys border made from , of all things, a tablecloth! She cut it in strips along the logos and adhered it to the wall with starch! She get’s that creative gene from her mother. And his dad is a football coach, so he’ll always have a family member around to teach him the finer points of the game.

We’ve bought him some accessories for Christmas, which I think he’ll really enjoy, and I have a few things from my days as a sportswriter covering the Cowboys. He’s become a football fan and I don’t mean just the Cowboys, either. He knows I am a big OU Sooners fan and the day they lost to the Texas Longhorns, Brandon called me near the end of the game to see how I was taking it (the Sooners’ losing, I mean.) Cynthia talked to him after the game and he wanted to know if I was having a fit! Can you image that? Me……have a fit? I wrote it off because Brandon ’s dad is a big ’Horns fan and I just figured he had put Brandon up to it. No, said Paul, that was Brandon ’s doing. So, I guess we’ve got a little smart alec in the family. That’s good. He’s interested in the game.

Now, if he can just keep that interest and attitude alive and maintain a cool head about him. If he is able to take losing in stride, because he may not always be on a winning team, he’ll be just fine.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What's in a name?

An email last week from my good friend Jim Patterson – – was too good to pass up. Curiosity may have killed a cat, but it only served to stir mine. So, I typed my name in and here’s what I discovered.

There are 5,015,094 people in the U.S. with the first name John. Statistically, John is the second most popular first name – no surprise -- and 99.63 percent of people with the first name John are male -- Surprise, surprise.

There are 27,497 people in the U.S. with the last name Inman, statistically the 1,298th most popular last name.

Now, John Inman, that’s another can of worms. There are no less than 100 with same name as mine. The closest to me is right here in East Texas, New London . Actually, I knew that already, because my bank account when I lived in Kilgore got confused with his. I couldn’t figure out where my checks were going, so I found out there were two John Edward Inmans with accounts at the same bank. Figure out the odds of that happening.

When I later worked at the newspaper in Longview , I even worked with his wife. She worked in make-up, but I didn’t discover it until she asked me one time what my middle name was. Turns out, she, too, was married to a John Edward Inman. I didn’t find out much about him, because they had divorced. She lived, of course, in New London , not far from Kilgore. New London is famous, because in 1935, there was an explosion there and it is still the worst explosion in school history.

Anyway, a further search of John Inman on the World Wide Web, brought up the 100 people with my same name. Years later, the closest was John A. Inman living in Houston . I don’t have any idea where the John E. Inman who lived in New London now resides.

There is a John Inman in Tulsa , but I don’t know his age or any of his kinfolk ( Chad and Marilyn), so there’s little chance I would know him. There is John A. Inman living in Odessa , TX , but he is 77 years old. Otherwise, several John Inmans live in Tennessee ( Knoxville and Jackson ), several in Mississippi , Arkansas and in Kansas and one in Florida .

Alas, none of them are kin.